Weak Spending Dampens Japan Recovery Hopes

Weak spending dampens Japan recovery hopes

TOKYO, , (Pakistan Point News - APP - 31st Jan, 2017 ) - Japan's household spending fell in December for the 10th consecutive month, the government said Tuesday, the latest in a series of blows to the nation's faltering growth plan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to office in December 2012 and launched his "Abenomics" growth plan -- a mix of massive monetary easing, government spending and red-tape slashing -- but growth remains fragile and inflation well below target.

The world's third-largest economy has been struggling to reverse years of on-and-off deflation and lacklustre economic growth. Last week, Japan said it logged its first annual consumer price decline in four years, as weak household spending and meagre wage hikes keep a lid on prices. Tuesday's official figures showed that household spending declined 0.3 percent from the year before, though better than market expectations of a 0.9 percent decline.

The job market, however, remained tight. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.1 percent in December, while the ratio of job offers to job seekers stood at 1.43 in December -- meaning there were 143 jobs for every 100 job hunters -- the highest since 1991. The government also said factory output gained 0.5 percent in December from the previous month, slightly better than expectations of a 0.3 percent increase. Bank of Japan (BoJ) officials have blamed external factors, such as falling energy prices and uncertainty related to emerging economies, for their failure to achieve a promised two percent inflation level. The central bank now expects to reach that goal by March 2019 -- four years later than planned.