Japan upgrades view on exports and output, however flags financial weak point


© Reuters. A laborer works in a container area at a port in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s government upgraded its view on exports, factory output and the job situation in its September economic report but said the overall assessment was unchanged from last month with Japan still struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

The world’s third largest economy suffered its worst postwar contraction in the second quarter, but has shown some signs of life after the government lifted a nationwide lockdown in late May.

With consumers and businesses still cautious as the country continues to battle the outbreak, the government downgraded its view on consumer spending and business expenditure in the monthly report released on Thursday.

“The economy remains in a severe condition due to the coronavirus impact but it is showing signs of picking up recently,” the government said in the report.

Japan’s economy shrank an annualised 28.1% in the April-June period, contracting for a third consecutive quarter.

The government has sought to soften the blow of the pandemic by unveiling a $2 trillion package of stimulus measures this year, while the Bank of Japan has also eased monetary policy further in 2020.

In the report, the government said it upgraded its views on exports and factory output for a third straight month and raised its assessment on the employment situation for the first time since January 2018.

The government said exports were “picking up”, bettering the August assessment that they showed signs of recovery. A rebound in the economies of major trading partners was underpinning Japan’s exports and factory output, the report said.

The number of people in employment was gradually recovering, the government said in the report, an improvement from its August view that the job situation was weak.

But the government downgraded its view on consumer spending for the first time in five months, saying it was “picking up” – as in the August report – but adding that it remained weak, along with business spending.

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Steven Gregory