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Japan household spending falls for 5th month in June

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese households reduced spending for the fifth straight month in June, government data showed Tuesday, suggesting only modest economic growth in the second quarter.

Spending by households with two or more people fell 1.2 percent from a year earlier to 267,641 yen ($2,403), according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The ministry maintained its assessment that spending is "showing weakness" as expenditures on traveling and home improvement fell.

The data point to the world's third-largest economy continuing to depend on exports and capital expenditure to avoid falling into recession in April-June. Private-sector economists on average predict that gross domestic product data, to be released later this week, will show an annualized real 1.2 percent expansion.

Despite the run of weak spending, a ministry official who briefed reporters said consumption could begin picking up as a measure of income rose for the first time in six months.

The average income of salaried households with at least two people stood at 808,716 yen, climbing 4.4 percent from a year earlier for the largest rise since July 2015.

Such a development would be welcomed by the Bank of Japan, which is pursuing a 2 percent inflation target in a bid to generate a cycle of robust corporate profits, higher wages and firm household spending.

Progress has been slow, however, with core consumer prices excluding fresh foods rising just 0.8 percent in June.

The ministry official said a strong earthquake that hit Osaka during the reporting month did not have a significant impact on spending.

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