(Adds detail, market reaction)
* Retail sales flat in Oct vs forecasts of a 0.4 pct gain
* Job ads decline for 8th month, inflation benign in Nov
* Market almost fully priced for rate cut on Tuesday
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, Dec 3 A flood of Australian data on
Monday showed a disappointingly flat month for retail sales,
lacklustre labour demand and tame inflation, a combination that
only added to expectations for a cut in interest rates this
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed retail
sales were unchanged in October at A$21.6 billion ($22.5
billion) as consumers cut spending on household goods. Analysts
had looked for a rise of 0.4 percent and the soft result knocked
the local dollar down a quarter of a cent.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) holds its monthly policy
meeting on Tuesday and investors are betting heavily it will cut
the cash rate by a quarter point to 3 percent, so matching the
record low reached during the global financial crisis.
"The market has moved pretty quickly over the past week to
pretty much fully discount a move tomorrow, and these data
aren't really going to change any perceptions about that," said
Michael Turner, a strategist at RBC Capital Markets.
A clear majority of analysts in a Reuters poll expect the
RBA to pull the trigger, in large part to help offset a
coming cool-down in the country's red-hot mining sector.
Interbank futures <0#YIB:> put the chance of an easing on
Tuesday at three-in-four, while swap rates put it at 88 percent
. Markets are also leaning toward a further cut to 2.75
percent some time next year.
The RBA has already cut rates by 100 basis points since May,
citing a slower global economy, a softer labour market at home
and lower prices for some of Australia's major resource exports.
The pullback in prices has led some miners to rein in their
more ambitious spending plans such that the RBA now believes the
boom in resource investment will peak earlier than previously
expected, around the middle of next year.
As a result, policy makers are trying to stimulate other
sectors of the economy, and particularly home building, to fill
any hole left by the eventual pullback in mining spending.
JOB ADS IN DECLINE
So far, lower rates have had a limited impact on cautious
consumers who prefer saving and paying down debt.
That has been tough for the A$260 billion retail sector
which accounts for around 18 percent of Australia's economic
output and is the second-biggest employer after the health
industry, with 10.5 percent of all jobs.
It is also one reason analysts expect unemployment to creep
higher from the current 5.4 percent.
A survey of job advertisements from Australia and New
Zealand Banking Group showed a drop of 2.9 percent in
October, the eighth month of falls and an ill omen for hiring.
"Further easing is necessary to assist the economy in its
transition towards a lower dependence on mining investment
growth," said ANZ's head of Australian economics, Ivan Colhoun.
"We continue to expect a 25 basis points cut at the RBA
Board meeting tomorrow and for the Bank to maintain a strong
easing bias in 2013."
Analysts see plenty of room to ease monetary policy given
Australia's Labor government is tightening its purse strings
while domestic inflationary pressures remain benign.
A private gauge of inflation out on Monday showed a 0.1
percent dip in November thanks to falls in prices for fruit and
vegetables, petrol and holiday travel.
The TD Securities-Melbourne Institute's measure of annual
consumer price inflation stood at 2.5 percent, right in the
middle of the RBA's long-term target band of 2 to 3 percent.
(Editing by John Mair)