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Japan gov't retains economic assessment but warns of virus resurgence

People maintain social distancing when lining up in front of a lottery booth in Tokyo's Ginza district on Nov. 24, 2020, as sales of year-end lottery tickets start the same day. Purchasers can win up to 1 billion yen. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The government on Wednesday retained its view that the Japanese economy is "picking up" in its assessment for November, but it also warned of downside risks from the global resurgence of coronavirus infections.

    In its monthly report, the Cabinet Office downwardly revised its view of capital investment, among other components, with the pandemic clouding the business outlook. Meanwhile, the assessment of production was upgraded due to the gradual resumption of economic activity.

    The economy "is still in a severe situation due to the novel coronavirus, but it is showing movements of picking up," the office said, using the same wording for the fifth straight month.

    Looking ahead, it said the improvement will continue, but added that "full attention should be given to the further downside risks" to the domestic and overseas economies due to the pandemic.

    The office issued similar warnings in March and April when the economy was under pressure from the initial impact of the pandemic. Japan declared a state of emergency in early April and fully lifted it in late May.

    "Domestically, private consumption of food services and travel is facing such downside risks, while exports could be affected by resurgences of infections overseas, especially in Europe," a Cabinet Office official told a press briefing.

    The evaluation of capital expenditure was cut for the fifth time this year. It is "decreasing recently," according to the office, which said last month that business investment was "showing weakness."

    The report upgraded the view of industrial output for the first time in two months, saying it is "picking up." The official cited solid demand for cars both at home and abroad.

    The report left its assessments of other major components unchanged, including private consumption which it said is "picking up."

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