Japan's Sept. consumer confidence up 1st time in 4 months

Japan's consumer confidence improved for the first time in four months in September, with hopes growing that Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics would help economic recovery gain momentum, the government said Thursday.

The seasonally adjusted index of sentiment among households made up of two or more people rose 2.4 points from the previous month to 45.4, the Cabinet Office said.

Readings below 50 indicate pessimists still outnumber optimists, but the government upgraded its basic assessment of the index, saying consumer confidence is "on an improving trend."

Tokyo's victory in its Olympic bid "certainly affected the mood among households," a Cabinet Office official briefing reporters said.

All of the index's four components rose, with consumers' view of employment conditions increasing 4.8 points to 51.7.

Consumers' near-term readiness to buy new durable goods went up 2.7 points to 47.0. Their assessment of livelihoods gained 1.7 points to 42.4 and that of income growth climbed 0.4 point to 40.6.

The survey, meanwhile, showed that 87.8 percent of households expect consumer prices to rise in the year ahead, up 0.5 point from August, as the depreciation of the yen has been driving up energy and food costs.

A sliding yen usually lifts import prices. Japan imports around 60 percent of its food and over 90 percent of its energy resources.

At the International Olympic Committee's general session in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7, Tokyo was selected as the host of the 2020 Summer Games, beating Istanbul in the final round of voting. This pushed up Japanese shares in mid-September amid expectations that industries such as construction and tourism will grow.

The survey conducted Sept. 15 covered 8,400 households and valid responses were received from 5,926 households.