Sentiment among consumers continued to improve in September, hitting an all-time high since the data first was compiled in March 1996, the Bank of Japan said Tuesday.

The central bank’s quarterly survey in September put the index of consumer sentiment at minus 10.4, up 4.5 points over the June survey, an improvement for the fourth consecutive quarter.

The index is tallied by subtracting the percentage of people saying the economy is worse than a year ago from the percentage of those saying it has improved.

The index designed to gauge sentiment a year from now improved for the fourth straight quarter to the highest level on record at 1.2, the BOJ said.

But the index to track sentiment about current living conditions, calculated by subtracting the percentage of people mentioning a decline in their lifestyle from that of respondents reporting an improvement, rose marginally to minus 42.3, up 2.1 points.

The percentage of people anticipating price rises one year later dropped 2.9 points to 37.1 percent, while that of people who favor declining prices grew to 50.7 percent from 49.7 percent for the fifth consecutive quarterly rise.

The latest survey was conducted between Aug. 27 and Sept. 6 on 2,969 randomly selected adults nationwide.

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