German monthly retail sales unexpectedly drop in February

BERLIN, April 3 (Reuters) - German monthly retail sales unexpectedly declined in February, data showed on Tuesday, and the third monthly fall in a row signalled that private consumption may remain weak in early 2018 after failing to contribute to growth in the fourth quarter.

The volatile indicator, which is often subject to revision, showed retail sales fell by 0.7 percent on the month in real terms, the Federal Statistics Office said.

That missed the Reuters consensus forecast for a 0.6 percent rise and followed an upwardly revised drop of 0.3 percent in January.

Private consumption has been a key growth driver in recent years as consumers benefit from rising wages, record-high employment and strong job security but foreign trade propelled Germany’s fourth-quarter expansion of 0.6 percent.

On the year, retail sales increased by 1.3 percent, missing a Reuters consensus forecast for a 2.2 percent increase.

The retail sales data came after a GfK survey published last week showed the mood among German shoppers brightened heading into April. (Reporting by Joseph Nasr Editing by Madeline Chambers)