RTTNews - Retail sales in Australia dropped in June, after rising in each of the previous three months, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail sales dropped 1.4% month-on-month in June, after rising 1% in the preceding two months and 2% in March. Total retail sales amounted to A$19.4 billion, down from A$19.7 billion in May.

In June, department stores showed the steepest drop in sales, by 8.8%, followed by a 7.4% decline in clothing and soft goods retailing. Most other groups showed sales declines, but household goods retailing showed a 2.9% increase in sales.

Regionwise, Queensland recorded the steepest fall in sales by 3.5%, followed by a 2.8% drop in sales in the Northern Territory. New South Wales was the only region to record a 0.1% increase in sales.

On the basis of the original series, retail sales fell 2.9% in June, after 2.5% growth in the preceding month.

In the second quarter, retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 2% sequentially, faster than the 1% growth in the first quarter, and marked the fourth consecutive quarterly rise. Economists expected an increase of 0.5%. Retail sales totaled A$55.03 billion in the June quarter.

The second quarter's growth reflected a rise in sales in all categories, with sales of clothing and soft goods retailing showing the maximum rise of 3.7%. This was followed by a 3% growth in household goods retailing.

Among the regions, all regions showed growth in sales with the exception of Northern Territory, where retail sales fell 2.9%.

Further, the statistical bureau also released data on house prices for the second quarter. The house price index for established houses, which is the weighted average of prices in eight capital cities, increased 4.2% in the second quarter, after falling for the previous four quarters. In the first quarter, the house prices were down 1.5%. Economists expected prices to increase 2% in the second quarter.

The highest price rise of 5.2% was in Melbourne, while the lowest rise of 2.4% was in Darwin.

On an annual basis, house prices fell 1.4% in the second quarter, slower than a revised 6.2% drop in the first quarter. Economists expected a 4.9% decline. The prices have now fallen for three consecutive quarters. House prices declined the most by 3.7% in Perth, followed by a 3.3% in prices in Brisbane. However, the fastest rise in prices of 11% was seen in Darwin.

There were other signs of improvement in the economy, with business conditions remaining more stable through the second quarter. Expectations for the third quarter are optimistic.

Data released by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tuesday showed that the index of general business conditions moved up to 35.4 in the June quarter from 34.1 in the March quarter. Moreover, the index of expected economic performance increased to 36.9 in the second quarter from 30.4 in the preceding quarter.

Earlier in the day, the Reserve Bank of Australia also held its key interest rate unchanged at a 49-year low of 3%.

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