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Spending by Japan’s wage-earning households in February grew a real 0.9 percent from a year earlier to an average of 314,197 yen for the third straight month of increase, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said Friday in a preliminary report.

It was the first time spending has risen three months in a row since January to March 1997, when consumption rose briskly just ahead of an increase in the consumption tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.

A ministry official said he does not believe spending is strong, because sales of appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners are surging ahead of a new recycling law to begin Sunday that will charge buyers for disposal.

Expenditures for furniture and household goods rose 9 percent from the previous year to 9,069 yen. Spending on transportation and communications rose 19.9 percent to 43,452 yen, due largely to a continuing rise in telecom costs. Expenditures on housing rose 16.6 percent to 22,601 yen.

In contrast, clothing and footwear spending dropped 11.2 percent to 12,310 yen for the 16th consecutive month of decline, while health and welfare expenditures dropped 7.7 percent to 10,375 yen.

Total household income fell a real 2.1 percent from a year earlier to 475,359 yen for the third month of decline.

The ministry official said the outlook on income is uncertain due to a recent decline in overtime work.

Disposable income fell 1.9 percent from a year earlier in the reporting month to 400,571 yen.

Nonconsumption outlays, such as taxes and social expenses, were down a nominal 3 percent to 74,788 yen.

Wage-earning households spent 265,838 yen on goods and services, up a real 2.2 percent.

Spending on overall goods rose 1.9 percent to 152,126 yen, with durable goods up 40.8 percent, semidurable goods down 4 percent and nondurable goods down 2.5 percent.

Services expenditures rose 2.5 percent to 113,712 yen.

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