• Reuters

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Japan’s retail sales tumbled at their fastest pace in more than 4½ years in October as a sales tax hike prompted consumers to cut spending, raising a red flag over the strength of domestic demand.

The government increased the nationwide sales tax from 8 percent to 10 percent on Oct. 1, in a bid to fix the nation’s public debt burden, which is the heaviest in the industrial world and more than twice the size of the country’s gross domestic product.

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