Japan's May household spending growth slows from previous month
Japan's household spending rose at a double-digit rate in May as consumers bought cars and mobile phones, though the pace of growth slowed from the prior month as a new wave of COVID-19 infections weighed on consumer confidence.
TOKYO: Japan's household spending rose at a double-digit rate in May as consumers bought cars and mobile phones, though the pace of growth slowed from the prior month as a new wave of COVID-19 infections weighed on consumer confidence.
Japan's economy is struggling to shake off the drag from the coronavirus pandemic after the government put in place "quasi-emergency" measures in Tokyo and other major areas to curb a resurgence of infections.
Household spending grew 11.6per cent year-on-year in May, the third month of gains, after a 13.0per cent rise in April, government data showed on Tuesday. That was stronger than a median market forecast for a 10.9per cent gain in a Reuters poll.
But the gains were heavily skewed by the recoil effect from last year's plunge when the pandemic and a nationwide state of emergency shuttered businesses and disrupted day to day life.
The month-on-month figures posted a 2.1per cent contraction compared with a forecast of a 3.7per cent decline.
The spending growth in May is unlikely to dispel worries that Japan is lagging recoveries seen in other major economies such as the United States, which the International Monetary Fund is forecasting to grow 7.0per cent this year - the fastest pace in a generation.
The combination of the risk of another spike in infections and a late vaccination drive in the nation has dented both consumer and business confidence.
Separate data on Tuesday showed inflation-adjusted real wages in May posted the biggest year-on-year rise since June 2018, in part due to a year-on-year surge in overtime pay.
Some analysts fear Japan's economy may fall back into recession in the second quarter, defined as two straight quarters of contraction, as consumer and business confidence took a hit from measures to stem a rise in coronavirus infections.
On Monday, a private business survey showed Japan's services sector activity shrank for the 17th straight month in June.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Kim Coghill)