Consumer sentiment in Japan improved for the first time in three months in August amid signs of recovery in employment conditions, the government said on Monday.
The confidence index of households made up of two or more people rose to 40.5 last month from 39.7 in July, the Cabinet Office said. All four components – livelihood, income growth, employment conditions and the timing of new durable goods purchases – marked advances.
Japan has revised down its growth numbers for the second quarter, raising concerns about a slowdown in the world's third largest economy.
The government said that economy grew at an annual rate of 0.7 percent during the April to June period. That is down from its earlier estimate of 1.4 percent.
Compared with the previous quarter, the economy grew by 0.2 percent, also lower than the previous figure of 0.3 percent.
Japanese household spending rose 1.7 percent in July from a year earlier, data showed on Friday, helped by government support for buyers of fuel-efficient cars.
The rise exceeded the median market forecast for a 1.2 percent increase and followed a 1.6 percent rise in June.
Japan's core consumer prices fell 0.3 percent in July from a year earlier, data showed on Friday, as the economy struggles to escape deflation and achieve the central bank's 1 percent inflation target.
The decline in the core consumer price index, which includes oil products but excludes volatile prices of fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood, matched the median market forecast, data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed.
It was the third straight month of declines, following a 0.2 percent drop in the core index in June.
Japanese retail sales posted a faster-than-expected decline in the year to July, down for the first time in eight months, as a boost from stimulus-driven consumption tapers off and sluggish exports cloud the outlook for the world's third biggest economy.
The 0.8 percent decrease in retail sales in July was bigger than a median market forecast for a 0.2 percent decline. It followed a meagre 0.2 percent gain in June after robust sales seen earlier this year.
Japan's government cut its assessment for the export-reliant economy on Tuesday for the first time since October 2011, as slowing global growth weighed on exports and factory output, and threatened recovery prospects.
Deceleration in the US and China, on top of Europe's debt crisis, caused the downgrade, the government said, warning that further global slowdown and sharp market swings posed risks to the world's third largest economy.
Japan's exports slumped by their most in six months in July, dragged down by collapsing shipments to debt-ridden Europe and a sharp fall in sales to China, fuelling worries that fragile recovery in the world's third biggest economy could stall.
The 8.1 percent annual fall was far deeper than economists' median forecast of a 2.9 percent drop. And a 25.1 percent plunge in exports to the European Union, the biggest such drop since October 2009, saw Japan post a record trade deficit with the region.
Japan's economy grew at a slower-than-expected annualised rate of 1.4 percent in April-June, adding to worries over the global outlook, as consumer spending flagged following a rebound from last year's earthquake and tsunami disasters.
Japan's economic growth slowed in the second quarter as the eurozone crisis hurt exports and domestic consumption remained subdued.
Gross domestic product grew by 0.3 percent during the period from the previous three months. That is down from 1 percent growth in the first quarter.
Compared to the same period last year, the economy expanded by 1.4 percent.
The number of corporate bankruptcies in Japan last month declined 5.0 percent from a year earlier to 1,026, a credit research agency said Wednesday.
But liabilities left by the business failures more than tripled to JPY724.1 billion (USD9.21b) – the highest monthly figure so far this year – due largely to the sizable debts left behind by Sanko Steamship Co. and consumer credit firm Clavis Co., according to Tokyo Shoko Research.