MEXICO CITY Mexican retail sales fell 1.0 percent in October compared with the previous month, clouding the outlook for Latin America's second-biggest economy in the fourth quarter.
The figures from the national statistics office on Wednesday showed the first monthly decline in sales in three months, and were in line with economists' expectations.
This followed an unexpectedly weak reading for industrial output in October.
However, better days could lie ahead as consumer confidence rose for a second straight month in November, and Mexican auto production also rose strongly during the month.
Compared with the same month a year earlier, retail sales rose 3.5 percent, the statistics office said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales would drop 1.0 percent month-on-month and rise 3.4 percent year-on-year.
A recent spike in annual inflation to a 2-1/2-year high in September may have hurt spending.
Since then, however, the inflation rate has begun cooling, and the latest monthly poll of analysts by Mexico's central bank published on Wednesday saw price pressures in 2013 slightly lower than previously forecast.
Retailers' association ANTAD said on November 25 that sales during a campaign to boost consumer spending during the month had been strong, and Alberto Ramos, an economist at Goldman Sachs, said he expected retail sales to rebound again in November.
The central bank poll of economists, banks and brokerages saw 2013 year-end inflation coming in at 3.69 percent, down from a prior estimate of 3.77 percent. Inflation was seen closing this year at 4.0 percent, the survey showed.
Mexico's economic growth slowed in the third quarter to its slowest pace in 1-1/2 years, recording 0.5 percent expansion compared with the prior quarter.
Still, the government expects the economy to post a 3.9 percent annual growth rate in 2012.
Next year, growth will likely ease to just under 3.5 percent, the central bank survey showed.
(Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom, Editing by W Simon and Dan Grebler)