The business confidence of workers with jobs sensitive to economic trends improved in July, due partly to brisk retail sales spurred by sweltering summer temperatures and the Athens Olympics, the government said Monday.

The diffusion index of confidence among so-called economy watchers gained 2.9 points from June to 54.3 after a fall of 1.4 points in June, the Cabinet Office said in a monthly survey.

The index is based on whether respondents see economic conditions as improving or worsening in comparison with three months earlier. A reading of 50 shows that respondents generally believe economic conditions are flat.

Respondents include taxi and truck drivers, department store sales staff, and restaurant and shop owners.

The figure has stayed above the key line of 50 for six consecutive months, indicating that the upbeat view of current economic conditions is entrenched.

On the current state of the economy, the index for household spending climbed 3.4 points to 52.4. The index for corporate activity gained 1.9 points to 55.9 and that for employment rose 1.4 points to 64.0.

Of household spending, the retail sales sector was particularly strong as the scorching weather and upcoming Athens Olympics boosted spending in products such as soft drinks and flat-screen televisions, the Cabinet Office said.

One respondent, a home-appliance outlet owner in the northern Kanto region, said sales of air conditioners and flat-screen TVs were solid due to the high temperatures and the Olympics.

A convenience store manager in the Tokai region said sales of ice cream jumped 80 percent from a year earlier due to the hot summer.

The nation’s 11 regions except Tokai showed increases in the index on the present economic situation.

Looking ahead, the index for economic conditions in the coming few months edged down 0.7 point to 53.4 for the third straight monthly decline but stayed above 50 for the seventh straight month.

The index for household spending fell 1.7 points to 51.6, while that for corporate activity increased 1.5 points to 54.5. The index for employment expanded 0.8 point to 63.2.

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