• Kyodo

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A key index designed to reflect the current state of the economy rose to its highest level in six years in January as businesses bolstered production ahead of next month’s consumption tax hike, the government said Friday.

The index of coincident indicators, including industrial output, retail sales and new job offers, climbed 2.5 points from a month earlier to 114.8, against the 2010 base of 100, the Cabinet Office said in a preliminary report. The index has climbed for seven months straight.

The figure was the highest since February 2008, before the global financial crisis erupted in September of that year.

The government left its basic assessment of the coincident index unchanged from the previous month, when it said the economy was “improving.” A Cabinet Office official noted that shipments of automobiles and flat-screen TVs were robust in January.

In the meantime, the index of leading indicators, which predicts developments in the coming few months, rose for the fifth consecutive month, gaining 0.5 point to 112.2, its biggest rise since November 2006. The lift in this index was attributed to companies’ moves to hire more workers amid the nascent economic recovery.

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