• Kyodo

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Business confidence among workers with jobs sensitive to economic conditions in Japan improved in June for the third consecutive month, due partly to an improvement in the retail sales environment, government data showed Monday.

The diffusion index of sentiment concerning current economic conditions among so-called “economy watchers,” such as taxi drivers and restaurant employees, rose 1.4 points from May to 50.0, the Cabinet Office said, adding that the result was the highest since December.

Readings below 50 mean more respondents reported conditions worsening than reporting improvement over the past three months, while readings above 50 indicate optimists outnumber pessimists.

The index for the direction of economic conditions in the coming months stood at 50.5, up 0.9 point.

The government maintained its basic assessment for the second straight month, saying the economy “continues to pick up.”

The survey cited an auto dealer in southwestern Japan as saying they had better-than-expected sales thanks to new models.

Midyear gift demand and sales of clothing and personal-use items are solid, a department store operator in western Japan said, as the weather has been good even after the rainy season began.

Hotel and flight bookings are high thanks to the summer vacation season, reported a travel agency in eastern Japan.

In the survey, the Cabinet Office polled 2,050 workers across Japan from May 25 to May 31, of whom 1,866 or 91.0 percent responded.

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