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MNI (London)
--Japan Jan Econ Watchers Current Index 45.6; Dec 46.8 
--Japan Jan Watchers Current Index Posts 2nd Straight Drop 
--Japan Jan Watchers Outlook Index 49.4; Dec 47.9 
--Japan Jan Watchers Outlook Index Posts 1st Rise in 2 Months 
--Japan Govt Keeps View: Moderate Recovery Continues But Marking Time
     TOKYO (MNI) - Japan's current sentiment index fell in January for the
second straight drop, hit by weaker items linked to households, such as retail
sales, drinking and eating, a key government survey released Friday showed.
     The survey indicates whether respondents with jobs most sensitive to
economic conditions -- taxi and truck drivers, department-store sales staff and
restaurant and shop owners -- think economic conditions have improved or
worsened from three months before.
     These are the key points from the latest monthly Economy Watchers Survey,
conducted by the Cabinet Office between Jan. 25 and Jan. 31.
     --The Economy Watchers sentiment index for Japan's current economic climate
fell 1.2 points to 45.6 in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, the second
straight drop after falling 2.7 points to 46.8 in December. The index remains
below the key level of 50.
     --January's 45.6 is the lowest level since July 2016 when it was at 44.4.
     --The Watchers outlook index showed sentiment over the situation two to
three months ahead marked the first rise in two months, up 1.5 points to 49.4 on
the back of hope for increased retail sales. There are hope for higher sales
ahead of planned tax hike spending and the 'change of era'.
     --The Cabinet Office left its overall economic assessment based on the
Economy Watchers Survey, saying, the DI is "a moderate recovery continues but
marking time."
     --"Looking ahead, there are concerns over uncertainty over the global
economy but there are expectations for (higher sales and businesses) linked to
the change of era's name and the planned long holidays from late April to early
May)," the Cabinet Office said.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-2175-0040; email:
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