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The economy was emerging from a deceleration phase and returning to a moderate recovery path before March 11, government data showed Wednesday.

The composite index of coincident indicators such as industrial output, wholesale sales and the ratio of job offers to seekers suggested economic conditions were “improving” in February, the Cabinet Office said in a preliminary report, revising upward its basic assessment of the statistics for the second month in a row.

But it also expressed caution about the future, with one of its officials saying, “The shocks (from the disaster) will remain to some extent,” and forecasting a sharp decline in the index for March due to disruptions in production.

February’s index rose to 106.3 against the 2005 base of 100, up from 105.9 in January and almost matching the average market forecast of a rise to 106.4. It grew for the fourth consecutive month.

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