TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan suffered its worst annual trade deficit in March as exports growth slowed to its weakest in a year, suggesting a rapid loss of economic momentum that may prompt policy makers into early action as a national sales tax hike puts more strain on growth.
The Bank of Japan has repeatedly ruled out fresh easing measures in the near term, insisting that the economy is on track to meet its 2 percent inflation target even as recent soft data hit investor confidence.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s annual export growth slowed sharply in March due to weaker shipments to China, casting doubt that a recovery in external demand could help offset the impact of the April 1 sales tax hike.
Ministry of Finance data showed that exports rose 1.8 percent in March from a year earlier, following a 9.8 percent annual gain in the previous month. That was well below a 6.3 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s government slightly cut its overall view on the economy, its first downgrade in a year and a half, but officials shrugged off the need for more stimulus to support the economy.
The government said the economy was on track for a moderate recovery, in keeping with its main overview at its March assessment, but noted there was some weakness in demand after a sales tax increase went into effect on April 1.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Confidence at Japanese manufacturers grew in April for the first time in three months, and a more moderate dip is seen over the next three months, Reuters poll showed, suggesting the impact on economic growth from a sales tax hike may be less pronounced than earlier thought.
The monthly Reuters Tankan, which closely correlates with the Bank of Japan’s tankan survey, gives an early glimpse of business morale after the tax rate rose to 8 percent from 5 percent on April 1. It also showed service-sector sentiment hit a record high.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s economy took another knock as a gauge of business investment weakened, but the Bank of Japan remained unperturbed and is expected to release optimistic inflation projections as a swing voter on its board turned more confident about the growth outlook.
After racing past its developed country peers in the first half of last year, the world’s third-biggest economy has stuttered in recent quarters as the effects of Tokyo’s aggressive stimulus policies faded.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s core machinery orders fell sharply in February, casting doubt on the strength of capital spending as early signs suggest the world’s third-biggest economy may struggle to cope with a sales tax hike that kicked in this month.
Core orders, a highly volatile data series regarded as an indicator of capital spending in the coming six to nine months, declined 8.8 percent, Cabinet Office showed on Thursday.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s central bank governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, gave the yen its biggest boost in over seven months and sent Tokyo stocks tumbling with hawkish comments this week, but his aim was more to jolt market psychology than to signal a change in policy.
Kuroda seized the opportunity to speak directly to financial markets on Tuesday, when the Bank of Japan (BOJ) introduced live news conferences, reinforcing his core message that the recovery in the world’s third-biggest economy was steadily banishing 15 years of deflation.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese business sentiment barely improved in the three months ending March and the corporate outlook is now considerably weaker than when Japan last raised its sales tax in 1997, the Bank of Japan’s tankan survey showed on Tuesday.
The findings highlight the daunting challenge facing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his quest to increase the consumption tax while simultaneously rescuing Japan from years of deflationary stagnation.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese business sentiment barely improved in the three months to March and is set to sour in the following quarter, a closely watched central bank survey showed, underscoring the challenges facing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his efforts to reflate the economy out of stagnation.
Big firms expect to increase capital spending only modestly, the BOJ’s tankan quarterly survey showed on Tuesday, reflecting uncertainty over how much a sales tax hike that kicked off on Tuesday could hurt a fragile economic recovery.
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s factory output unexpectedly fell in February at the fastest pace in eight months in a possible sign that the benefits from last-minute demand before an impending sales tax hike may have run their course.
The data adds to growing concerns of a stumble in the economy, and comes on the heels of a separate survey showing manufacturing activity expanded at a slower pace in March.