Retail sales in Australia, supported by economic-stimulus programmes, were up 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. As retailers account for a quarter of the economy, the gains help boost overall economic growth. "There are reasons to expect that the Australian economy can continue to perform better than its international counterparts in the difficult period that lies ahead," said Malcolm Edey, assistant governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

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