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By David Schutz, Retail sales unexpectedly rebounded in January after falling for the last four months. Sales rose 0.3% from December, after dropping by half a percentage point at the end of 2011. Economists had predicted a further drop in January. The unexpected rise was led by growth in France, which served to offset weaker than expected German numbers. European consumer confidence has been under threat as governments in Spain, Ireland, and Italy toughen budget cuts and austerity measures in an effort to avoid requesting aid from international bodies. The measures are intended to boost economic growth and job creation. The EU commission last month forecasted a drop in growth over the coming months as Europe struggled to rebound from the far-reaching sovereign debt crisis. The Euro received a boost from the better than expected data as continued to reverse losses earlier in the day.