Saturday, 18 April 2009

US and Japanese consumer sentiment improve

Consumer confidence in the US was up in April. Bloomberg reports:

The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment rose to 61.9, the second straight gain, from 57.3 in March. The index reached a three-decade low of 55.3 in November.

It is not just in the US. Bloomberg reports that consumer sentiment has also improved in Japan.

Japan’s consumer sentiment rose to a five-month high in March, a sign that the recession in the world’s second-largest economy is abating.

The confidence index climbed to 28.9 from 26.7 in February, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. The index has advanced for three months since tumbling to 26.2 in December, the lowest since the government began compiling the figures in 1982.

The improvement may not necessarily signal an imminent recovery though.

The Cabinet Office upgraded its assessment of the index for a second month, saying “consumer sentiment has stopped declining, though it remains in a severe state.”

The gain in the index was more of a reflection that pessimism was moderating rather than optimism taking hold, said Shigeru Sugihara, deputy director-general at the Cabinet Office...

[S]ome economists say the recession will spread as exporters including Toyota Motor Corp. try to minimize losses by cutting pay and firing workers. Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa said today that weaker spending by companies and consumers will worsen the economy even as exports and production start to improve.

Demand for services fell 0.8 percent in February from a month earlier as companies cut production and pay cuts damped consumer spending, the Trade Ministry said today. The unemployment rate advanced to a three-year high of 4.4 percent in February and wages fell the most in five years.

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