Housing and retail data 'shows confidence on the rise'

ACTING Federal Treasurer Senator Mathias Cormann said the latest retail trade and housing approval data provides further evidence that consumer confidence is returning to the Australian economy.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week showed Australian retail trade grew by 4.6% in the year to November, which is the strongest annual growth in three years.

The growth was led by buoyant trade in cafes and restaurants, as well as clothing, footwear and personal accessories.

However, dwelling approval numbers showed a 1.5% fall in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, despite an increase of 6.0% for private houses over the same period.

Mr Cormann said overall approvals grew 22.2% over the past year.

"This is a good sign of a strengthening under way in the Australian residential construction sector," he said.

"These are all positive indications that consumers are growing more confident in the direction of the Australian economy.

"While these are very positive signs, we are still dealing with an economy growing below trend and with unemployment which is too high and trending up."

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