Japan: Consumer confidence returns to pre-earthquake levels
January 16, 2012
In December, the seasonally adjusted consumer confidence index rose to 38.9 points from 38.1 points in November. At the current level, consumer confidence sits at its highest point since February 2011, thus returning to the levels observed before the March earthquake. The consumer confidence index measures consumer expectations over the next six months, with a value of 100 points indicating that all respondents see their living standards improving. The increase was mainly due to a marked improvement in the assessment of job conditions, despite unemployment remaining unchanged at 4.5% in November. Moreover, the willingness to buy durable goods rose for the fourth consecutive month and the overall livelihood category also recorded gains over the previous month. Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office maintained its assessment on consumer confidence, stating that it is "nearly flat."