Japan retail sales fall unexpectedly, keeping BOJ under pressure

A shopper looks at items inside a discount store at a shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, Jul 29, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's retail sales unexpectedly fell in the year to September, official data showed on Wednesday (Oct 28), suggesting that consumer spending does not the momentum to make up for weak exports and factory output.

The retail sales news could add to pressure on the Bank of Japan under to expand monetary stimulus, possibly as soon as its rate review meeting on Friday, when it is also expected to slash its rosy economic and price projections, analysts say.

Retail sales fell 0.2 per cent in September from a year earlier, compared with economists' median estimate for a 0.4 per cent rise, said the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The decline, which followed five straight months of gains, was largely due to sluggish demand for cars and fuel, according to the data.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail sales rose 0.7 per cent in September from the previous month.

Japan's economy shrank in April-June and may suffer another contraction in July-September on weak exports and consumption.

Analysts say any rebound in the current quarter will be modest as companies feel the pinch from soft demand in China and other emerging Asian markets.

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