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Monthly spending by wage-earning households rose for the first time in eight years in fiscal 2004, the government said Tuesday.

Spending rose 0.8 percent in real terms over the previous year to an average of 330,929 yen a month. The fiscal year ended March 31.

Monthly income, meanwhile, edged up for the first increase in three years, rising 0.6 percent over the previous year to an average of 529,822 yen, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said in a preliminary report.

“Those households spent actively in the first half of the reporting year but slowed in the latter half, after quakes and typhoons pushed up prices of such items as vegetables,” a ministry official said.

The increase reflects some moves to replace TV sets ahead of the Athens Olympics in the summer, and strong power demand for air conditioning during the scorching summer, he said.

But it is too early to say whether the nation’s personal spending has entered a climbing phase, he added.

By item, household spending showed strong growth of 4.6 percent in transport and communications for the third consecutive year of improvement, led by active automobile- and communications-related expenditures.

Education-related spending surged 8.7 percent in real terms — adjusted for inflation factors — marking the third straight year of increase, the ministry said.

But spending slumped 9.2 percent on housing and 4.5 percent on clothing and footwear. It fell 1.6 percent for food, extending its yearly declining streak to 14 years.

Disposable income for the year averaged 444,874 yen a month, up 0.2 percent for the first rise in three years.

For March, average monthly spending by households expanded a real 1.7 percent from a year earlier to 353,639 yen.

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