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Asia Roundup: Japan's Consumer Confidence Rises To Five Month High


Friday, Japanese consumer confidence rose to a five-month high in March, while the Bank of Japan lowered its assessment in seven of the country's nine regions.

A report from Japan's Department of Economic and Social Research Institute showed that the consumer confidence index rose to 28.9 in March from 26.7 in the previous month. The improvement in the index was close to the expected level of 29. Consumer confidence increased for the third consecutive month in March after falling to 26.2 in December.

Elsewhere, the BoJ lowered its assessment on seven of the country's nine regions in its latest regional economic report. The central bank's view on Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku, Kanto-Koshinetsu, Kinki, Shikoku and Kyushu-Okinawa underwent downward revisions. Meanwhile, the central bank maintained its view on Tokai and Chugoku.

Later in the day, Japan's Cabinet Office maintained its economic assessment for the second straight month saying that the economy is worsening rapidly while in a severe situation. In its monthly report for April, the government had lowered its assessment of business sentiment, while raised its evaluation of exports and public investment.

Japan's service sector output was down a seasonally adjusted 0.8% on-month in February, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said, posting an index reading of 105.6. That came in slightly lower than analyst expectations for a 0.7% monthly decline following the 0.4% gain in January.

Data released by the Japan Department Stores Association showed that sales at nationwide department stores fell 13.1% year-on-year March following an 11.5% decline in February. Similarly, sales at Tokyo's 28 major outlets operated by 13 companies dropped 12.9%, quicker than a fall of 11.7% in the previous month.

Fitch Ratings maintained Singapore's long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Rating at 'AAA' giving a stable outlook to the ratings. At the same time, the rating agency confirmed the country's short-term foreign currency IDR at 'F1+' and the country ceiling at 'AAA', giving both these ratings also a stable outlook.

The Official Receiver's Office said bankruptcy petitions in Hong Kong reached the highest level since July 2003, after the economy slipped into a deep recession. There were 1,872 bankruptcy petitions in March, compared to 1,500 in February.

by RTT Staff Writer

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