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Bullish U.S. retail sales brighten growth outlook

By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales recorded their largest gain in 1-1/2 years in March in a decisive sign the economy is bouncing back from its weather-induced slumber. Monday's upbeat report was the latest to indicate growth was set to accelerate in the second quarter after an unusually cold and snowy winter hobbled activity early in the year.

S. Korea stands pat on interest rates

South Korea's central bank on Thursday kept interest rates at 2.5 percent for the 11th consecutive month, citing signs of recovery at home and abroad and uncertainty about the US Federal Reserve's stimulus. "Global economy is expected to continue moderate recovery, but there still are lingering risks as the US Fed's possible change of monetary policy can... pummel growth of emerging economies," the bank said in a statement. The Fed's huge asset-purchase scheme has provided much-needed foreign investment in countries such as South Korea.

China factories struggle, adds to expectations for stimulus

By Kevin Yao and Adam Rose BEIJING (Reuters) - Persistent weakness in China's manufacturing sector reinforced fears of a sharper-than-expected slowdown at the start of 2014, and some government economists think authorities have already started boosting spending to put a floor under growth. On Tuesday two surveys showed that manufacturing struggled in March, with activity at smaller, private firms contracting for a third month, adding to a run of disappointing data that has sparked speculation of imminent government-led stimulus.

Japan business mood recovery slows, outlook dims: BOJ tankan

By Leika Kihara and Tetsushi Kajimoto TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese business sentiment barely improved in the three months to March and is set to sour in the following quarter, a closely watched central bank survey showed, underscoring the challenges facing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his efforts to reflate the economy out of stagnation.

Japan factory output fall underscores uneven recovery

Japanese factory output contracted in February, data showed Monday, a surprise decline that highlighted the uneven economic recovery in the world's number three economy as consumers brace for a sales tax hike. The 2.3 percent fall in output from January -- the first decline in three months -- is likely to aggravate concerns about the potential impact of the increased levy, which takes effect on Tuesday.

BOJ tankan to show business mood up but outlook dims

By Kaori Kaneko TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese manufacturers' mood probably improved in the three months to March but it will likely weaken the following quarter due to concerns that a sales tax hike may dent the pace of the economic recovery, a Reuters poll showed. Big firms are expected to raise their capital spending plans slightly for the new financial year, though uncertainty over the economic outlook will keep them cautious.

Japan's core machinery orders up 13.4% in January

Japan's core private-sector machinery orders surged at their second-fastest pace on record in January, up a seasonally adjusted 13.4 percent from the previous month, the government said Thursday, signaling the recent economic recovery has prodded companies to boost investment. The orders, excluding those for ships as well as those from utilities because of their volatility, rose to 843.5 billion yen after having plunged 15.7 percent in December, the Cabinet Office said.

Big Japanese firms' sentiment at record high in Jan.-March

Sentiment at large Japanese companies in the January-March period rose to a record high, but they are wary of the economic outlook as a planned sales tax hike in April may choke consumption and investment, a government survey showed Wednesday. The survey also suggested more business managers are ready to pay higher wages to their workers, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government urged them to take such action in a bid to prevent the tax increase from significantly hurting the economy.

Big Japanese firms' sentiment at record high in Jan.-March

Sentiment at large Japanese companies in the January-March period rose to a record high, but they are wary of the economic outlook as a planned sales tax hike in April may choke consumption and investment, a government survey showed Wednesday. The survey also suggested more business managers are ready to pay higher wages to their workers, after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government urged them to take such action in a bid to prevent the tax increase from significantly hurting the economy.

Large Japanese firms' sentiment at record high in Jan.-March

Sentiment at large Japanese companies in the January-March period rose to a record high, but they are wary of the economic outlook as a planned sales tax hike in April may choke consumption and investment, a government survey showed Wednesday.
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