(Adds economists’ comments starting in fourth paragraph, zloty, bonds in fifth.)
Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Polish retail-sales growth accelerated in January to the fastest pace in nine months, backing forecasts that European Union’s largest eastern economy will resist a contraction in the euro area.
Sales growth quickened to 14.3 percent from a year earlier, compared with an 8.6 percent rise in December, the Central Statistical Office in Warsaw said today. That exceeded the 13.8 percent median forecast of 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Gross domestic product in Poland will grow 2.5 percent, the fastest pace among the EU’s 27 member nations, compared with a 0.3 percent contraction in the euro area, the European Commission said today in an interim forecast for 2012. Jeronimo Martins SGPS SA, which operates Poland’s biggest retailer Biedronka, doesn’t expect consumers to cut spending this year, Tomasz Suchanski, the chain’s general director, said on Feb. 6.
“Today’s data are undoubtedly better than expected,” Michal Dybula, an economist at BNP Paribas in Warsaw, said by phone after the release. “Wage growth was higher than expected, putting more money in people’s pockets, and the minimum wage was increased at the beginning of this year. Household consumption is at a pretty respectable level.”
Average gross wages surged 8.1 percent from a year earlier in January among Polish companies with more than nine workers, the fastest in three years, the office said on Feb. 16.
The zloty traded at 4.1855 per euro at 12:11 p.m. in Warsaw, down from 4.1803 before the release, paring its gain to 0.2 percent from yesterday. The yield on the government’s five- year bond fell to 4.998 percent from 5.019 percent yesterday.
“The base effect of low inflation a year ago plus one more working day in January 2012 were responsible for the pick- up in retail sales,” Jaroslaw Janecki, chief economist at Societe Generale in Warsaw, said by phone.
Retail sales growth slowed to 5.8 percent a year ago, the lowest rate since mid-2010, after consumers scaled back big- ticket purchases such as cars in response to an increase in the value-added tax on Jan. 1, 2011.
In a separate report, the office said the unemployment rate increased to 13.2 percent in January from 12.5 percent the previous month, below the 13.3 percent median forecast of 23 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
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