Japan service sector sentiment improves in December

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's service sector sentiment index rose to 45.8 in December, a Cabinet Office survey showed on Friday, in a sign that the fall in the economy may have hit bottom.

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 40.0 in November.

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 51.0, up from 41.9 in November.

The Cabinet Office said the economy showed signs of picking up, compared with its previous view that the economy was staying weak.

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