Japan's economy continued to show signs of improvement on Friday. From AFP/CNA:
Japan's current account surplus shrank by a smaller-than-expected 51.7 per cent from a year earlier in May with the impact of the March earthquake and tsunami weighing on exports, data showed Friday.
The surplus came to 590.7 billion yen (US$7.3 billion) in May, the finance ministry data showed, beating economists' median forecast of 300 billion yen...
Exports fell 9.8 per cent to 4.5 trillion yen, compared with growth of 34.0 per cent a year earlier but better than a fall of 12.7 per cent registered in April.
Imports soared 14.7 per cent to 5.3 trillion yen largely due to higher energy costs.
Another evidence of recovery in Japan comes from Reuters:
Japan's service sector sentiment index rose to 49.6 in June, a Cabinet Office survey showed on Friday, improving for the third consecutive month following a record fall in March, as progress in recovery from the March 11 disaster boosted consumer confidence.
The survey of workers such as taxi drivers, hotel workers and restaurant staff -- called "economy watchers" for their proximity to consumer and retail trends -- showed their confidence about current economic conditions climbed from 36.0 in May...
The outlook index, indicating the level of confidence in future conditions, was at 49.0, up from 44.9.
In the US, however, the employment report for June turned out to be a disappointment. Bloomberg reports:
American employers added jobs at the slowest pace in nine months in June and the unemployment rate unexpectedly climbed to 9.2 percent, sending global stocks sliding on concern the world’s biggest economy is faltering.
Employers increased payrolls by 18,000 workers, less than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists, which called for growth of 105,000. The increase followed a 25,000 gain that was less than half the initial estimate. Hiring by companies was the weakest since May 2010.