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Japan's economic sentiment reaches 3 year high
Date: 2010/5/17 Click: 1158
Japan's survey Economy Watchers, showed that sentiment among the nation's public increased 2.1 points to 49.8 in April, the Cabinet Office said in a report on Thursday.
The survey, in which a score of over 50 means people view economic conditions in a positive light, has risen for five consecutive months, with April marking the highest reading in three years.
  
The survey's outlook index, which gauges the level of confidence in future conditions two to three months ahead, rose to 49.9 in April from 47.0 a month earlier the Cabinet Office said.
  
According to the survey future expectations rose on positive sentiment toward government stimulus measures for families as well as tax breaks for buying low emission vehicles.
  
Additionally the cabinet office said the reward program for buying eco-friendly homes and renovating existing homes to be more energy efficient should support the household sector, although the survey revealed there were concerns about rising fuel costs.
  
"The household index rose despite slower sales of flat-screen TVs in payback for rush demand in March before changes were made to the reward program for purchases of greener consumer electronics, and thanks to solid sales of passenger cars on subsidies and tax breaks for buying low emission vehicles," the Cabinet Office said.
  
The latest survey concluded that "the economy is in tough condition but there are signs of an improvement," according to the Cabinet Office, repeating its view from the previous month, when it upgraded it for the second straight month.
  
The survey's business index posted the fourth straight monthly gain as both orders and sales improved despite downward pressure on prices, the Cabinet Office said as it did a month earlier.
  
The labor index posted the fifth straight monthly rise because some firms began to hire people, as seen in the previous months, the survey revealed.
  
The Economy Watchers Survey asks business-cycle sensitive workers their thoughts on existing and future economic conditions, to provide the government with a detailed picture of economic trends in Japan.
  
Segments of the economy surveyed include sectors such as retail, restaurant service, and taxi driving and the monthly report serves as both a consumer confidence indicator and a leading indicator for the rest of the economy.
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