Japan’s jobless rate held steady in January and the availability of jobs improved to a two-year high, adding to signs that the economy is gradually recovering from stagnation.
But household spending marked its fourth straight month of annual declines in January, the longest losing streak since a 14-month drop in 2008 and 2009, suggesting that improvements in the economy will be slow to broaden out.
The recent spike in commodity prices also clouds the outlook for the fragile economy as it threatens to squeeze corporate profits and dampen consumer sentiment.
"The Japanese economy is moving upward little by little," Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano said in a news conference.
"But we need to be alert about a surge in crude oil futures prices that will likely be reflected in physical prices, and with a certain time lag, have a major impact on the Japanese economy."
Read the rest of the story: Japan job availability at 2-year high; recovery widens.