Japan service sector sentiment improves in February

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's service sector sentiment index rose to 53.2 in February, up for the fourth straight month, a Cabinet Office survey showed on Friday, underpinned by hopes for government's aggressive monetary and fiscal steps will boost the economy.

The survey of workers such as taxi drivers, hotel workers and restaurant staff - called "economy watchers" for their proximity to consumer and retail trends - showed their confidence about current economic conditions rose from 49.5 in January.

The Cabinet Office started compiling the data in comparative form in August 2001.

The outlook index, indicating the level of confidence in future conditions, was 57.7, up from 56.5 in January. The Cabinet Office said in its assessment that the economy was picking up.

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