Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Japanese economy creeps up

The Japanese economy continues to show signs of expansion, but the overall data remain mixed.

Yesterday's retail sales data were unimpressive. From Reuters:

Retail sales in Japan fell slightly in April from a year earlier, data showed on Monday, but economists stuck to the view that a recovery in consumer spending will help underpin firm economic growth.

Retail sales fell 0.6 percent in April, slightly below a median forecast by economists for a 0.5 percent decline...

Compared with March, retail sales rose 0.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

Today's data were perhaps a bit better.

The unemployment rate stood at 4.1 percent in April, unchanged from March, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said.

The jobless total dropped by 260,000 from a year earlier to 2.84 million...

Despite the drop in the jobless total, however, spending by Japanese households fell 2.0 percent in April from a year ago after stripping out the effect of price changes, although bad weather was seen as partly to blame.

Meanwhile Japan's industrial output rose by 1.5 percent in April from the previous month, a second consecutive monthly gain, the trade ministry said.

Year-on-year, output was up 3.8 percent...

The ministry forecast that production will rise 0.2 percent in May from April and gain a further 1.3 percent in June, based on a survey of manufacturers' own expectations.

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