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Five of the six major service industries performed worse in April than in the same month last year, underscoring the fragility of the services sector, the government said Monday.

Sales paid for with credit cards rose 2.3 percent in April from a year earlier to 2.04 trillion yen, while the remaining five sectors all recorded falling sales, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a preliminary report.

But the value of sales paid for with credit cards overseas dropped 11.8 percent from a year earlier, following a decline in overseas trips triggered by the Iraq war and the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, a METI official said.

The official added that the trend probably continued in May.

The value of contracts of longer than one year signed by leasing firms dropped 1.1 percent to 583.50 billion yen, while the value of contracts of one year or less slipped 1.7 percent to 75.80 billion yen.

Revenue at information-services firms dropped 1.7 percent to 452.10 billion yen, mainly due to slack sales of game software, the report says.

Sales at advertising-related firms dropped 2.1 percent to 414.78 billion yen, while the value of orders landed by industrial engineering firms declined 7.3 percent to 416.22 billion yen .

Among the 12 major categories of firms that provide services to individual clients only, revenue at pachinko parlors, bowling alleys and theater operators grew in a range of between 4 percent and 9.7 percent, the report says.

Fitness clubs, culture centers, foreign-language schools and funeral services reported a revenue gain within a range of 0.5 percent to 21.7 percent.

But revenue at theme and amusement parks plunged 19 percent, while that generated at wedding ceremony halls plummeted 22.1 percent.

Revenue at movie operators, along with operators of golf courses and golf ranges also dropped from a year earlier.

Money supply gauge up 1.6%

The most closely watched money supply gauge rose 1.6 percent in May from a year earlier, while the balance of quasi-money — mostly in time deposits — slipped 1 percent, the Bank of Japan said in a preliminary report Monday.

The average daily balance of M2 — cash in circulation, demand deposits and quasi-money — plus certificates of deposit, came to 680.9 trillion yen, up from a revised 679.6 trillion yen in April, the central bank said.

The pace of growth improved slightly from a revised 1.3 percent in March, the first improvement in seven months.

The balance of quasi-money was 315.5 trillion yen in May, with the year-on-year decrease slowing from a 1.6 percent slide in April.

Quasi-money refers to time deposits and other types of savings at banks that cannot be immediately cashed, including foreign-currency deposits and nonresidents’ yen deposits.

A breakdown of the data shows that cash in circulation increased 5.1 percent to 67 trillion yen in May, following a revised 6 percent gain in April, and that demand deposits, which are ordinary deposits and checking accounts, rose 4.7 percent to 281.5 trillion yen following a revised 4.3 percent increase in April.

The balance of M1 — cash in circulation plus demand deposits — grew 4.8 percent to 348.5 trillion yen in May, following a revised 4.6 percent rise in April

The balance of CDs slid 9.8 percent to 16.9 trillion yen in the reporting month after a revised drop of 8.7 percent a month earlier.

Broadly defined liquidity, the widest measure of the money supply, fell 0.5 percent to 1.31 quadrillion yen in May — the first drop since 1981, when the BOJ began compiling relevant data — following a revised increase of 0.4 percent in April.

The decline reflects the dissolution of the public Post Office Life Insurance Welfare Corp. and the resulting transfer of its assets to Japan Post.

Without this one-time event, broadly defined liquidity would have posted an increase of 1.7 percent.

The gauge includes postal savings, deposits at agricultural and fishery credit cooperatives, loan trusts and money trusts, bank debentures, and Japanese and foreign government bonds, as well as the M2 balance plus CDs.

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