This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
See Cramer's multi-million dollar portfolio for FREE and get his new book Get Rich Carefully! Learn More

Japan economy holds steady as tax hike looms

By ELAINE KURTENBACH

TOKYO (AP) a¿¿ Japan's recovery is holding steady ahead of a looming sales tax hike, economic indicators showed Friday, though weakness in wages and spending suggest it remains vulnerable to a reversal.

The consumer price index rose 1.3 percent in January and factory production also climbed.

Past experience suggests Japan will see a big plunge in demand after the 3 percentage point tax hike to 8 percent on April 1, said economist Masamichi Adachi of JP Morgan in Tokyo.

"It is a very difficult time to gauge the underlying strength of the economy," he said.

As manufacturers and retailers raise prices to compensate for higher costs they are passing them on to consumers, who already appear to be tightening their belts to compensate.

Japanese awoke Friday to front-page reports of plans for hikes in the prices paid for vending machine soft drinks and plans for further increases in gas and electricity rates.

Contrary to earlier expectations, manufacturers are forecasting that factory output will fall in March, following a 4 percent increase in January to about the level it was at before a massive earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan in March 2011, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry reported.

Japan's financial industry and banks are relatively sound, compared with the 1990s. Its companies have much less debt and there is no reason to expect a major regional crisis similar to the one that slammed the economy in 1997, plunging the economy into recession. By coincidence, that period of economic trauma followed a tax hike in Japan.

The government and central bank have unleashed a flood of monetary and fiscal stimulus aimed at breaking Japan free from a long spell of deflation, or falling prices, that is thought to discourage investment and spending.

But the central bank needs to ensure financial markets remain stable and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe needs to deliver on promises for reforms to help make the economy more competitive, Adachi said.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
DOW 16,346.57 +84.01 0.52%
S&P 500 1,850.49 +7.51 0.41%
NASDAQ 4,049.8510 +15.69 0.39%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto
Advertising Partners

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs