• Kyodo

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A key index reflecting the current state of the Japanese economy rose in September for the fourth straight month, even though the economy is still recovering from the initial hit of the novel coronavirus pandemic, official data showed Monday.

The Cabinet Office’s preliminary data for the coincident index of business conditions in the reporting month increased 1.4 points from August to 80.8 against the 2015 base of 100, back to the threshold of 80 for the first time since March when 89.2 was logged.

The office maintained its assessment that the Japanese economy is “bottoming out,” using the same expression as in August. In that month, the government upgraded its economic assessment after having rated the economy for 12 consecutive months through July as “worsening,” the most pessimistic of its five expressions.

Following the gradual economic resumption since the complete lifting of the government’s state of emergency declaration over the virus in late May, the reading has continued to improve since it dropped to 71.3 in May. The figure in May was the worst since the 71.2 posted in April 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

The rise in the coincident index is because “production and exports, especially those of cars, have continued to pick up,” a government official told reporters.

Under the emergency declared in April, people had been asked to stay at home and nonessential businesses to suspend their operations, dealing a heavy blow to the world’s third-largest economy.

The leading index of business conditions, forecasting the situation in the coming months, also rose 4.4 points to 92.9 in the reporting month, the second sharpest rise since comparable figures became available in January 1985 following a 5.4 point increase in June.

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