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Weather batters confidence index

Kyodo

Business confidence among people with jobs sensitive to economic conditions worsened in October for the first time in two months, with bad weather brought on by typhoons stifling retail sales, government data showed Monday.

The diffusion index of sentiment among “economy watchers” such as taxi drivers and restaurant employees was down 1.0 point from the previous month to 51.8, the Cabinet Office said in a monthly survey.

The index, however, stayed above the threshold line of 50 and the government left its basic assessment intact from September, saying the survey suggests the economy is “steadily picking up.”

The index is based on whether respondents believe economic conditions have improved or worsened over the past three months, with a reading of 50 indicating a general belief that economic conditions are flat.

The index for the direction of economic conditions in the coming months rose 0.3 point to 54.5, up for the second straight month.

The government attributed the rise to growing hope that consumer spending will increase ahead of the planned consumption tax hike to 8 percent next April.