By Mike Cherney

SYDNEY--Australian retail sales rose much less than expected in November, in a sign consumers were cautious about spending heading into the crucial Christmas trading period.

The central bank has cut interest rates to a record-low 1.5%, seeking to stoke domestic sectors of the economy such as retail sales as a long resources boom slows.

Retail sales rose 0.2% in November from a month earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday, compared with a 0.4% rise expected by economists.

The biggest contributor to the monthly sales gain was clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, which rose 1.7% on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

Sales forOctober were unchanged at 0.5%. That consensus-beating result was driven mainly by food sales.

With business surveys still looking weak, J.P. Morgan said ahead of Tuesday's release that more compelling evidence of a sales stabilization was needed for growth to push back up to trend.

Australia's economy contracted for the first time since early 2011 in the September quarter, threatening the longest ongoing streak without recession in the developed world.

-Mike Cherney at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 09, 2017 19:56 ET (00:56 GMT)

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