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Economy’s assessment not raised for April

Kyodo

The government on Friday left its monthly assessment of the economy unchanged for the first time in four months, with consumption and housing investment perking up but capital spending showing little movement.

The economy “is showing indications of picking up recently, while weakness can be seen in some areas,” the Cabinet Office said in its April report, making upward revisions to three of the 14 categories under review, including consumer spending.

Before the April report, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had raised its assessment of the economy each month since taking power Dec. 26.

A stock rally and weaker yen have improved business sentiment and prompted companies to boost production.

For April, the administration upgraded its assessment of exports for the first time in 11 months, saying they “are starting to level off,” but a Cabinet Office representative briefing reporters said it remained “uncertain” whether they will grow.

The government also said private consumption is “picking up” and the number of business failures “is moderately decreasing.”

As for prices, the report said that “recent price developments indicate the Japanese economy is in a mild deflationary phase,” as the Bank of Japan decided last week on a set of policy measures to pursue stronger monetary easing to achieve its 2 percent inflation target within two years.

Looking ahead, the government indicated an optimistic tone, deleting the phrase “weakness will remain for the time being in some areas” from the previous report.