August 29, 2017 / 9:29 AM / in a year

UPDATE 1-HK July retail sales rise 4 pct, fastest growth in 2-1/2 yrs

* July retail sales up 4 pct in value, fifth month of growth

* July jewellery sales jump 12.9 pct, vs 0.8 pct slide in June

Aug 29 (Reuters) - Hong Kong’s retail sales rose 4 percent in July, climbing for the fifth straight month and marking the fastest year-on-year growth since February 2015 as inbound tourism picked up.

Retail sales rose to HK$36 billion ($4.60 billion) in value terms compared with a 0.1 percent growth in June after revision, government data showed on Tuesday.

In volume terms, July sales rose 4.6 percent year-on-year, compared with a 0.5 percent growth in June after revision.

For the first seven months of 2017, retail sales remained unchanged in value terms and were down 0.1 percent in volume terms.

“The pickup was underpinned by robust local consumption demand and further improvement in inbound tourism,” the Hong Kong government said in a statement.

“Looking ahead, local consumer sentiment should remain sanguine under favourable job and income conditions,” the government said, adding the near-term performance of retail sales would hinge on the recovery pace of inbound tourism.

Hong Kong Tourism Board is due to release July tourist arrivals data later this week. The city recorded a 1.9 percent fall in tourist arrivals in June when mainland visitors decreased 3.4 percent.

Hong Kong’s retail sales have sagged in the past two years due to a decreasing number of tourists. The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. currency, which means it is prone to strengthen when other Asian currencies weaken.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts in Hong Kong rose 12.9 percent in value terms in July, compared with a 0.8 percent fall in June. It was up 2.5 percent for January-July period. ($1 = 7.8241 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Donny Kwok and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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