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Japan’s retail sales inched down 0.3 percent in September from a year earlier to 10.17 trillion yen for the second straight month of decline, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Thursday.

Sales among wholesalers rose 2.3 percent to 37.30 trillion yen for the fourth straight monthly rise, according to METI.

As a result, combined wholesale and retail sales grew 1.7 percent to 47.47 trillion yen, up for the fourth month in a row, it said.

Despite these consecutive falls, METI left its retail sales assessment unchanged, saying, “There is an incipient sign of recovery.”

“The margin of decline this month was smaller than the 1.6 percent fall registered in August,” a METI official remarked.

In the retail sector, fuel sales surged 9.4 percent amid increases in gasoline and gas oil prices triggered by soaring crude oil prices.

Sales of machinery equipment fell 7.7 percent in response to robust air conditioner and refrigerator sales a year earlier.

Sales among large retailers — supermarkets and department stores — shrank 1.4 percent from a year before to 1.59 trillion yen, down for the second month in a row.

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