* Monthly jump highest since Dec 2006
* January increase follows steep fall in December
BERLIN, March 1 German retail sales grew at the
fastest monthly rate in more than six years in January,
rebounding from a deep fall in December and confirming signs
that Europe's largest economy has turned the corner after a
dismal end to 2012.
Data from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Friday
that retail sales rose a real 3.1 percent from December after a
fall of 2.1 percent that month, revised downward from an
originally reported 1.7 percent.
That was the highest increase - both in real and in nominal
terms - since December 2006 and far surpassed economists'
expectations for a 1.0 percent real rise in a Reuters poll.
The notoriously volatile indicator showed retail sales
jumped by 2.4 percent on the year in January, up from an
upwardly revised 3.7 percent drop the previous month.
Germany's economy shrank in the fourth quarter more than at
any time since the height of the 2009 financial crisis, as
exports - usually the backbone of the economy - suffered, with
euro zone peers in recession and the global economy cooling.
But sentiment indicators reinforce economists' expectations
that Europe's growth engine will return to moderate expansion in
the first three months of this year, thereby avoiding a
recession defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.
A strong labour market could contribute to German consumers
opting to spend rather than save. Data on Thursday showed the
number of Germans out of work fell in February and the jobless
rate remained close to a post-unification low.
Germany has been criticised for not boosting its domestic
demand and expanding at the expense of its neighbours. Strong
private consumption - to which firm retail sales point - could
be welcome news for Chancellor Angela Merkel who is up for
re-election in September.