BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone retail sales returned to growth in October, data showed on Wednesday, pointing to rising demand from households after a weak third quarter.
The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said retail sales in the 18 countries sharing the euro rose 0.4 percent month-on-month in October for a 1.4 percent year-on-year gain.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.6 percent monthly and a 1.4 percent annual increase after sales contracted 1.2 percent month-on-month in September and rose 0.5 percent on the year. Month-on-month sales also fell in July.
Though volatile, retail sales data is a proxy for household demand, one of the weaker elements of the euro zone's slow and fragile recovery.
Eurostat data showed sales of non-food products, and fuel at petrol stations made the biggest contribution to the monthly rise of the index in October, with Finland and the euro zone's biggest economy, Germany, reporting the biggest gains.
Sales of food, drinks and tobacco were flat in the month.
In annual terms, automotive fuel sales rose 2.9 percent and non-food products 2.1 percent, with just a modest 0.4 percent increase for the food, drinks and tobacco group.
The sharpest year-on-year rises were in Luxembourg, Estonia and Slovakia, with decreases in Malta and Slovenia.
For further details of Eurostat data click on:
(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)