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Internet shopping drives Australia Post profit

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's love of online shopping has helped Australia Post deliver a 17 percent jump in annual profit, buoyed by a technology once thought to spell the death knell for post offices.

Online sales have been a bright spot in an otherwise lacklustre Australian retail environment, with a local bank estimating Internet-based sales in the year to July 2012 rose 30 percent to A$14 billion ($14.4 billion).

Australia Post reported an overall net profit of A$281 million, and said its parcel division was running at peak levels throughout the year, a trend previously only seen during the hectic Christmas period.

Its traditional mail business, however, has been hit by the rise of Internet email and other electronic communications, posting a loss of A$148 million.

In contrast to Australia Post's bumper earnings, the U.S. Postal Service reported a $5.2 billion loss in just the April through June period. ($1 = 0.9759 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Pullin)