• Japan household spending falls again in Oct

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    TOKYO: Spending among Japanese households fell for an eighth successive month in October despite the unemployment rate sitting at a 21-year low, government data showed Tuesday.

    Japan needs stronger consumer spending if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to revitalise the world’s third-largest economy—now nearly four years old—are to succeed.

    Last week, the internal affairs ministry core consumer prices, which exclude volatile fresh food costs, fell again in October to extend the longest run of declines for five years.

    The ministry said Tuesday that household spending last month dropped 0.4 percent from a year earlier.
    It was, however, a smaller decline than the 2.1 percent drop in September, partly because of higher vegetable prices.

    “Household spending has been flat in the past year because disposable income has not increased,” said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

    “Even though salaries are rising, the pace of their increase is not so big compared with the gain in social insurance premiums, and people have seen no prospects that their salaries will rise in a sustainable way,” he told Agence France-Presse.

    Jobs data stayed positive, with the unemployment rate remaining at 3.0 percent, unchanged from September and the lowest since 1995.

    The labour ministry separately said the ratio of job offers to job seekers came in at more than 25-year high of 1.40 in October, meaning there were 140 offers for every 100 job hunters.

    Japan’s central bank this month pushed back the timeline for hitting its 2.0 percent inflation target to March 2019—four years later than its original target and the latest in a string of delays.

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