German Retail Sales Unexpectedly Rise for a Second Month

German retail sales unexpectedly rose for a second month in February, adding to signs the domestic economy is returning to growth.

Sales, adjusted for inflation and seasonal swings, gained 0.4 percent from January, when they surged a revised 3.0 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists forecast a decline of 0.6 percent, according to the median of 24 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. From a year earlier, sales dropped 2.2 percent.

Germany’s economy, Europe’s largest, is weathering renewed turbulence in the debt crisis, after inconclusive Italian elections and a botched bailout of Cyprus roiled financial markets. With unemployment near a two-decade low, the Bundesbank predicts the economy will expand again in the current quarter, after contracting 0.6 percent in the final three months of 2012.

“We see strong German consumption going forward due to the very robust labor market,” said Alexander Krueger, chief economist at Bankhaus Lampe KG in Dusseldorf. “Still, even while the growth conditions are very good at the moment, the debt crisis keeps boiling over and that’s weighing on demand.”

The German Labor Agency will release unemployment data for March in Nuremberg at 9.55 a.m. today. The unemployment rate is expected to hold at 6.9 percent, according to a separate survey.

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