By Leika Kihara
Japan’s household spending unexpectedly fell in October, marking a second straight month of declines and adding to concerns about the strength of the economy as global trade frictions cloud export prospects.
The data follows a Reuters survey that showed manufacturers’ confidence worsened for a second straight month in December, a sign they are starting to feel the pinch from protectionism fears.
Household spending decreased 0.3 percent in October from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday, compared with a median market forecast of a 1.4 percent rise. It followed a 1.6 percent drop in September.
A pickup in consumption is crucial for the Bank of Japan to achieve its elusive 2 percent inflation target, as weak spending has so far discouraged firms from raising prices for fear of turning away cost-sensitive households.
Japan’s economy shrank in the third quarter and some analysts warn any rebound in the current quarter could miss consensus expectations as trade protectionism and slowing global demand hurt business sentiment.
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