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Hong Kong blames trade spat for worst retail sales in 17 months

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Hong Kong retail sales growth slowed in November, and dampened sentiment from the trade tensions between US and China is partly to blame, the government said.

[HONG Kong] Hong Kong retail sales growth slowed in November, and dampened sentiment from the trade tensions between US and China is partly to blame, the government said.

Retail sales value rose 1.4 per cent from a year earlier in November, the slowest growth since June 2017, according to the Census and Statistics Department on Thursday. Retail volume rose 1.2 per cent, which was also the slowest increase in 17 months.

The median economist estimates for retail sales value and volume were 4.5 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively.

"Cautious consumption sentiment" due to uncertainties like the trade tensions and volatility in global financial markets contributed to the moderated growth, a government spokesman said in an official statement.

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The jewellery, watches and clocks category - which made up nearly one-sixth of total nominal retail sales value in November - fell 3.9 per cent, the biggest contraction among the major categories.

Overseas markets including Hong Kong suffered a sales drop as Chinese consumers kept more of their luxury purchases within mainland China than before, due to yuan depreciation, import tax cuts and enhanced online shopping experiences.

Prada SpA fell 2 per cent as of 9.37am in Hong Kong, while Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd declined 1.1 per cent. Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd dropped 1.6 per cent. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was little changed.

Luxury brand Tiffany & Co reported lower sales contribution from Chinese tourists in the Americas and Hong Kong in the third quarter, while growth inside China's domestic market accelerated from previous quarters.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in November that Chinese consumer growth will likely to normalise and "move more onshore" as Hong Kong has started to lose share.

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