• Kyodo

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Consumer confidence worsened in May for the second straight month amid rising prices of goods such as food, data showed Tuesday, prompting the government to downgrade its assessment.

The seasonally adjusted index of sentiment among households made up of two or more people fell 0.1 points from April to 41.4, the Cabinet Office said.

The government downgraded its basic assessment of the index, saying the pace of a pickup in consumer confidence is “becoming moderate.” Last month, the government said consumer confidence was “picking up.”

The survey polls consumers on the economic outlook for the coming six months. A reading below 50 suggests pessimists outnumber optimists.

Of the four components, those for employment conditions and the timing of new durable goods purchases declined 1.4 points to 47.2 and 0.1 points to 39.6, respectively.

Meanwhile, consumers’ view of their livelihoods improved 0.4 points to 38.8, while their assessment of income growth rose 0.5 points to 39.8, according to the Cabinet Office.

In the reporting month, 87.4 percent of households said they expect consumer prices to rise in the year ahead, down from 89.2 percent in the previous month, the survey showed.

The latest survey was conducted as local media reported an increase in prices of everyday items such as chocolate and liquor, according to a government official. Average gasoline prices also rose in May from the previous month, the official said.

The Cabinet Office survey, conducted on May 15, covered 5,712 households, with valid responses received from 5,498, or 65.5 percent.