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Australia's JB Hi-Fi rises as sales rebound in October

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(Reuters) - Store reopenings in New South Wales are helping JB Hi-Fi Ltd's October sales, Australia's No.2 electronics retailer said on Thursday, after reporting downbeat numbers for the first quarter due to lockdown-related hit to its business.

Shares of the company rose 3.4% to a two-month high and were among the top gainers on the benchmark index, which was trading down 0.4%.

First-quarter same-store sales tumbled 7.9% for its Australia business and 6.4% for its New Zealand business, the company said.

"The start to this year has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and in some states extended periods of store closures," said Chief Executive Officer Terry Smart, adding that demand was starting to pick up.

Earlier this month, Australia began easing COVID-related curbs in various parts of the country after witnessing a third wave of infections, fuelled by the Delta variant, which had forced the closure of thousands of businesses.

JB Hi-Fi was a COVID beneficiary last year when work-from-home mandates were in force, said Jason Teh, chief investment officer at Vertium Asset Management.

"However, with Australia approaching 80% vaccination rate for the population over the age of 16, the tail wind for JB Hi-Fi becomes a headwind," Teh added.

(Reporting by Tejaswi Marthi in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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