Japan’s service sector contracts


    TOKYO- Japan’s services sector activity extended declines in March as businesses struggled to fully shake off the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a private survey showed, but the pace of the downturn was the slowest since January last year.

    Some businesses said that an easing of coronavirus-related curbs that were imposed from early January for Tokyo and other prefectures led to a modest recovery in demand.

    The final au Jibun Bank Japan Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to a seasonally adjusted 48.3 from the previous month’s 46.3 and a preliminary 46.5 reading.

    That meant service-sector activity stayed below the 50 level that separates contraction from expansion for a 14th consecutive month, but the pace of decline was the slowest since the start of the sequence.

    “Latest PMI data indicated softer reductions in both business activity and new orders, with the former falling at the softest pace in 14 months,” said UsamahBhatti, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.