Japan's Consumers Most Upbeat In 16 Years

Thanks to improving employment and wage conditions, Japanese consumers are at their most confident in 16 years , a government survey showed May 16. The index of confidence among households with at least two people rose to 50 in April, up 2.1 points from March and the strongest since June 1990 when it reached 50.3, the Cabinet Office said. A reading above 50 indicates that optimists outnumber pessimists.

The index is based on replies to a survey asking about four aspects of consumer sentiment -- perception of general economic well being, income growth, employment conditions and willingness to purchase durable goods.

Confidence is growing that Asia's largest economy is finally on a solid recovery path after a long slump, with the unemployment rate at a seven-year low of 4.1%.

Consumer spending underpins 55% of the economy and its expansion has played a key role in pulling Japan out of the economic doldrums.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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