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Economy in Brief

Japan's Consumer Confidence Takes Small Step Back
by Robert Brusca  June 9, 2015

Japan's consumer confidence index fell for the second month in a row. The confidence reading for May sits in the 48th percentile of its longer historic queue of data back to 1992. The raw reading of 41.4 is itself a diffusion reading in which values greater than 50 indicate improving conditions. This May reading is not only historically weak but also indicating net deterioration.

None of the component readings are at or above 50 the neutral standing position. Conditions according to each of the measures are deteriorating in May.

Employment is the category closest to neutrality with a reading of 48 in May, down from 48.9 in April. At that reading, employment stands in the top 30% of its historic queue. That standing underlines how long Japan's economy has been depressed. A reasonably firm top 30% historic standing still finds that employment conditions are deteriorating on balance.

The value of assets component has nearly as strong as an historic standing but has a weaker raw diffusion reading at 43.9. The raw diffusion score of 43.9 is still a long way from neutral.

Willingness to buy durable goods has a weak 22 percentile historic standing. But at least its diffusion value rose to 40.4 from 39.7.

Income growth and overall livelihood components both rose in May but each measure sits in a low percentile standing and at a low diffusion reading. Income growth sits at 40.3 while overall livelihood sits at 39.4.

There is no upward momentum to speak of in any of the components. The employment metric is losing momentum since its local peak in September of last year. The other measures are trying to stabilize at raw diffusion readings around 40 in value. There is not much room for optimism in the headline or components of this report. Although the overall index for May only fell by one tick, these is little good news among the details.

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