Japan Dec services expand again, firms see increase in new orders

TOKYO: Japan’s services sector activity expanded in December at roughly the same pace it did in the previous month and new business grew at the fastest in four months, a sign that domestic demand is strengthening, a survey showed Wednesday.

The Markit/Nikkei Japan Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was a seasonally adjusted 51.5 in December, little changed from 51.6 in November. December was the ninth consecutive month the index remained above the 50 threshold that separates expansion from contraction for the ninth consecutive month.

The index for new business rose to 52.0 from 51.6 for November, indicating the fastest growth in four months. The business expectations index, which measures forecasts of output over the next year, also reached the highest in four months, rising to 54.8 in December from 54.0 in November.

In 2014, services accounted for 65 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product, while manufacturing had a 21 percent share. Japan’s government and central bank are counting on a pick-up in domestic demand and a growing services sector to ensure the economy weathers any shocks from overseas.

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