Japan Feb household spending seen down for third straight month: Reuters poll By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Shopper looks at items at a supermarket in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese household spending likely dropped in February from a year earlier, falling for a third straight month, a Reuters poll found on Friday, suggesting emergency steps to contain the coronavirus infection kept a lid on consumer expenditure.

A state of emergency declared in the Tokyo area to curb the spread of COVID-19 hurt service sector spending such as restaurants and bars, while demand for home appliances and food and beverage was likely to stand firm, analysts said.

Household spending is forecast to have fallen 5.3% in February from a year earlier after a 6.1% decline in January, the poll of 16 economists showed.

But compared with the previous month, household spending likely grew 2.8% in February, rebounding from a 7.3% drop in January, the poll found.

The government will release household spending data at 8:30 a.m. on April 6 (2330 GMT, April 5).

A decline in new coronavirus cases in February helped to improve consumer sentiment from January but a more recent rebound in infections clouds the outlook, analysts said.

“Spending on consumer goods were rather on the uptick in February led by firm demand for stay-at-home and remote working related items,” said Koya Miyamae, senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

“On the other hand, spending on services likely remained lackluster. Consumer spending was expected to have picked up in February but the pace of recovery was slow.”

Japan’s economy has rebounded from a pandemic-induced deep slump last year. Many economists expect the economy contracted again in the January-March quarter because of emergency coronavirus curbs but then expect an export-led gradual recovery.

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