Japan service sector sentiment improves in January

TOKYO Fri Feb 8, 2013 12:06am EST

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TOKYO Feb 8 (Reuters) - Japan's service sector sentiment index rose to 49.5 in January, rising for the third straight month, a Cabinet Office survey showed on Friday, suggesting recent weak yen and expectations for the government's aggressive monetary and fiscal policy had helped business confidence.

The survey of workers such as taxi drivers, hotel workers and restaurant staff -- called "economy watchers" for their proximity to consumer and retail trends -- showed that their confidence towards current economic conditions rose from 45.8 in December.

The Cabinet Office started compiling the data in comparative form in August 2001.

The outlook index, indicating the level of confidence in future conditions, was 56.5, up from 51.0 in December.

The Cabinet Office said in its assessment that the economy was picking up.

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