Economic Indicators for Japan

The Emperor's Birthday - the Emperor's Birthday on December 23 is a national holiday and the Japanese markets are closed for the day.

BoJ Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes

The Bank of Japan publishes the summary from its monthly monetary policy meetings some time after the actual meeting. These meetings are held to review economic developments inside and outside of Japan and decide the central bank's monetary policy. The minutes usually come out late, at least a month after the meeting, but give detailed insight into the Bank of Japan's monetary policy decision making process.

Markets tend to focus on the key points discussed during the meeting that might suggest future interest rate changes. If the Bank of Japan is cautious about the inflationary outlook for the economy (characterized as "Hawkish"), then the market sees a higher likelihood of future rate increases. If the Bank is optimistic ("Dovish") it suggests to markets that inflation is in check and that future rate increases are less likely.

Markets will discount some information in the report because of the lag in the release of the notes. The focus will often be on what the Bank deems as key points that could suggest future interest rate changes. For example if the minutes state that high energy costs and a rapidly expanding housing market are fuelling inflation, then markets participants will tend to monitor these key sectors closely in order to gauge the likelihood of a rate increases in the future.

Relevance: Three Star Tends to move markets on release
Release schedule: 5:00 (GMT); in the middle of the month
Revisions schedule: None
Source of report: Bank of Japan
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/index.htm
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/theme/seisaku/mpm_unei/giji/index.htm
AKA: Minutes of the Monetary Policy Meeting

BoJ Monetary Policy Monthly Report

Every month the Bank of Japan releases their report covering trends in the Japanese economy and relevant international developments. The report summarizes recent economic indicators and gives the Bank's official position on Japanese economic growth. Because the BoJ sets monetary policy, any insight into the conclusions and assumptions the Bank is operating under can be helpful in predicting future interest rate actions.

Markets tend to focus on the key points of the report and how they may lead to future interest rate changes. For example if the report cites worries over deflation and suggests that lacklustre demand has stymied growth, market participants will be more inclined to monitor leading inflation and consumption indicators in order to gauge the likelihood of rate increases in the future. Additionally, markets focus on how the language in the report might suggest future interest rate changes. If the Bank of Japan is cautious in its tone about the inflationary outlook for the economy (characterized as "Hawkish"), then the market sees a higher likelihood of future rate increases. If the Bank is optimistic ("Dovish") or concerned with deflation, it suggests that future rate increases are less likely.

Relevance:Three StarTends to move markets on release
Release schedule: 6:00 (GMT); in the middle of the month
Revisions schedule: None
Source of report: Bank of Japan
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/theme/seisaku/handan/gp/index.htm
AKA: Monthly Report of Recent Economic and Financial Developments

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Key gauge for inflation in Japan. Simply put, inflation reflects a decline in the purchasing power of the Yen, where each Yen buys fewer goods and services. In terms of measuring inflation, CPI is the most obvious way to quantify changes in purchasing power. The report tracks changes in the price of a basket of goods and services that a typical Japanese household might purchase. An increase in the index indicates that it takes more Yen to purchase this same set of basic consumer items.

Markets will typically pay more attention to "CPI excluding Fresh Food," because it excludes volatile food prices that can distort overall CPI. The headline figure for CPI is the percentage change in the index on a month to month or year to year basis.

As the most important indicator of inflation, CPI figures are closely followed by the Bank of Japan. Rising Consumer Prices may prompt the BoJ to raise interest rates in order to manage inflation and slow economic growth. Higher interest rates make holding the Yen more attractive to foreign investors, and this higher level of demand will place upward pressure on the value of the Yen.

Relevance: Three Star Tends to move markets on release
Release schedule: 23:30 (GMT); monthly, in the last week of the following month
Revisions schedule: Little or no revisions
Source of report: Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (Japan)
Web address: http://www.soumu.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http://www.stat.go.jp/english/index.htm

Domestic CGPI

Measures prices for goods purchased by Japanese corporations. As prices for input materials and the overall cost of manufacturing change, companies adjust retail prices accordingly. The CGPI comprehensively tracks these supply-side price pressures and increases in the index often precede upward movement in the CPI. If an increase in the CGPI is followed by a rise in the CPI, concerns about inflation may prompt the Bank of Japan to raise interest rates. The headline numbers are the percentage change in the index month or month and annually.

Note: The index's base year is the year 2000 and the base value is 100. Thus, an index value of 105 signifies a 5% increase in prices since the year 2000. The data report also contains individual indexes for each commodity category used in the Wholesale Price Index.

Relevance:Three Star Tends to move markets on release
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly, on the eighth business day of the following month
Revisions schedule: Some revisions, although minor
Source of report: Bank of Japan (BoJ)
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/type/stat/dlong/index.htm
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/type/stat/dlong/price/cgpi/index.htm#01
AKA: The wholesale price index

Gross Domestic Product Quarterly (GDP)

Comprehensive measure of a Japan’s overall production and consumption of goods and services. GDP serves as one of the primary measures of overall economic well-being. GDP announcements generally conform to expectations as the number comes out after most Japanese production figures that lead to overall GDP have already been released. Although releases that are out of line with expectations are rare, unanticipated GDP growth can move markets simply because of its significance as an economic indicator.

Robust GDP growth signals a heightened level of economic activity, such activity often benefits trade flows and encourages foreign investment that can lead to higher demand for the Yen. At the same time, economic expansion raises concerns about inflationary pressures which may lead monetary authorities to increase interest rates. Thus better than expected GDP figures are generally bullish for the Yen, while negative readings are generally bearish.

Technically, Gross Domestic Product is calculated in the following way: GDP = C + I + G + (EX - IM)
C = private consumption
I = private investment
G = government expenditure
EX = exports of goods and services
IM = imports of goods and services
Japanese GDP figures are released quarterly as expenditure-based estimates. The headline figures are annualized percentage changes in real and nominal GDP.

Relevance: Three Star Tends to move markets on release
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); quarterly, in the second month following the end of the quarter
Revisions schedule: The second preliminary report comes a month after the first, and the final report is released at the end of the fiscal year, with a two year lag.
Source of report: Economic and Social Research Institute (Japan)
Web address: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/index-e.html
Address of release: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/en/sna/menu.html#93sna
AKA: Preliminary Estimated GDP

Leading Economic Index

Composite of 12 major leading indices for Japan . Movements in these indicators are known to precede larger developments in the rest of the economy.

The Index includes account inventory ratios, machinery orders, stock prices and other leading economic indicators. As the aggregate of many leading indices the Leading Economic Index provides a forecast of the future state of the domestic economy and is thought to predict activity that will occur 6-9 months after the reporting period.

The index operates on a 1-100 scale, where a value lower than 50 means that most indictors are negative and a value higher than 50 means most indicators are positive. In both cases a greater distance from the midpoint (50) means that the indicators are more strongly positive or negative.

Relevance: Three Star Tends to move markets on release
Release schedule: 5:00 (GMT); monthly, in the first third of the month with a two month lag
Revisions schedule: Revisions are common
Source of report: Economic and Social Research Institute (Japan)
Web address: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/index-e.html
Address of release: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/en/stat/menu.html#di
AKA: Leading Index, Leading CI, LEI

Merchandise Trade Balance Monthly

Measure of "visible" trade, which is trade in goods like cars and electronics. Specifically it is the difference between Japan’s imports of goods and exports of goods, excluding services. A positive value indicates a trade surplus (exports exceed imports) while a negative value indicates a trade deficit (imports exceed exports). Movements in the Merchandise Trade Balance reflect altered demand for Japanese Yen, which can move the value of the currency. Positive growth in the trade balance may lead to a future appreciation of the Yen due to steady demand in exchange for Japanese exports.

The Merchandise Trade report itself gives insight into changing trends regarding Japanese trade. Such developments are especially important for Japan, which is an export-oriented economy that has historically experienced large trade surpluses, any affect on this could have dramatic affect on the domestic economy. The headline figure is expressed as a percentage change from the last equivalent period, and a positive percentage change can indicate that export growth has exceeded import growth.

Relevance: Three StarTends to move markets on release
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly, in the fourth week following the reporting month
Revisions schedule: Few or no revisions
Source of report: Ministry of Finance, Customs Office (Japan)
Web address: http://www.mof.go.jp
http://www.customs.go.jp
Address of release: http://www.customs.go.jp/toukei/shinbun/happyou_e.htm
AKA: Merchandise Trade Surplus/ Deficit

Retail Trade Monthly

Total value of goods and services sold each month at retail outlets. The report serves as a direct gauge of consumption and consumer confidence. Consumer spending is one of the most important leading indicators for the Japanese economy. An increasing number of sales signal consumer confidence and economic growth, but higher consumption also leads to inflationary pressures. The headline figure they release is a year-on-year percentage change in the nominal value of items sold.

Relevance: Three Star Tends to move markets on release
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly, one month after the reporting period
Revisions schedule: Little or no revisions
Source of report: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Japan)
Web address: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/statistics/index.html
AKA: Retail Sales

Tankan Survey

Queries firms on the prevailing business climate and is conducted by Japan’s central bank to help determine monetary policy.

Covering a wide range of business issues, the Tankan gives insight into the future direction of capital expenditure and pricing as well as the corporate outlook towards employment and the overall economy. The report is extensive, relevant, and Quarterly. It is used by international investors as a window into the Japanese economy and, more importantly, by the Bank of Japan to determine monetary policy.

Tankan All Industries Capital Expenditure (Capex) - measures capital expenditure (capex) by all Japanese industries except the financial industry. Capital expenditure is an early indicator for production since companies usually make capital investments in order to expand operational productivity. Thus increasing capex figures can forecast economic growth, particularly if they are accompanied by high capacity utilisation rates. The headline number is the annualized percentage change in spending from the previous quarter.

Tankan Large Manufacturers Index - tracks overall business conditions for large manufacturing enterprises. The Tankan's main component, the Large Manufacturer's Index is indicative of the sentiment of leading manufacturing companies. The index uses zero as the centreline between positive and negative outlooks; the farther the value from zero the stronger the sentiment. High positive values signify favourable business conditions and suggest increased levels of production in the future. Low values suggest an ongoing or future contraction in the manufacturing sector. This measure is especially important for Japan because manufacturing firms are a primary driver of growth for the export-oriented economy.

Tankan Large Manufacturers Outlook - a forecast of the next quarter's Large Manufacturer's Index. The figure is a measure of future business expectations, providing an indication of economic trends based on factors like projected profits and capital investment. The headline number is the projected value of the Large Manufacturer's Index for the next quarter.

Tankan Non-Manufacturing Index - reflects the prevailing sentiment of firms in the service sector on current business conditions. Business confidence among non-manufacturing firms, which conduct most of their business within Japan, reflects both the strength of domestic demand and the health of the non-export sector. The Non-Manufacturing Index is also important as a measure of overall economic health.

The index uses zero as a centreline between positive and negative outlooks; the further the value is from zero the stronger the sentiment. High positive figures are indicative of a healthy and growing domestic economy.

Tankan Non-Manufacturing Outlook - forecasts the value of the Non-Manufacturing Index in the next quarter.

The Non-Manufacturing Outlook is a good measure of future business expectations, providing an indication of economic trends based on factors like projected profits, capital investment, and consumer demand. The headline number is the projected value of the Non-Manufacturing Diffusion Index for the next quarter.

Relevance: Three Star Tends to move markets on release
Release Schedule: 23:50 (GMT); quarterly, on the first Monday after the period
Source of report: Bank of Japan
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/index.htm
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/theme/research/stat/tk/index.htm#r
Capex: Fixed Investment including Land Purchasing Expenses > Large Enterprises > All industries
Large Manufacturers Index: Business Conditions > Large Enterprises > Manufacturing > (Current survey period)
Large Manufacturers Outlook: Business Conditions > Large Enterprises > Manufacturing > (Next Quarter's Outlook)
Non-Manufacturing Index: Business Conditions > Large Enterprises > Nonmanufacturing > (Current Survey Period)
Non-Manufacturing Outlook: Business Conditions > Large Enterprises > Nonmanufacturing > (Next Quarter's Outlook)

Tertiary Industry Index

Evaluates the monthly change in output produced by Japan's service sector. Japan's economy is very export based, because this report excludes manufacturing and only measures service industries catering mainly to domestic needs, the Tertiary Industry Index is a key indicator of domestic activity. The index incorporates data from firms involved with wholesale and retail trade, financial services, health care, real estate, leisure, and utilities. The report excludes industrial manufacturing sectors that tend to be influenced by foreign demand. The tertiary industry index is posted monthly as a percentage change from the previous month's figure.

Relevance: Three Star Tends to move markets on release
Release schedule:23:50 (GMT); 2-3 weeks after the reporting period
Source of report: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
Web address: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http:// www.meti.go.jp/english/statistics
AKA: Indices of Tertiary Industry Activity

Trade Balance

The difference between the total value of exports and the total value of imports. A positive figure indicates a trade surplus while a negative value represents a trade deficit. Because Japan’s economy is highly export-led, trade data can give critical insight into developments in Japan’s economy and changes into foreign exchange rates.

A surplus reflects capital flowing into Japan in exchange for Japanese exports, and a deficit means that capital is flowing out of Japan as imports are purchased in larger volumes by Japanese consumers. A trade surplus will act as an appreciating weight on the Yen, whereas a trade deficit will place downward pressure on the Yen's value.

Details in the Trade Balance report itself give useful insight into changing trends regarding Japanese trade. Such developments are especially important for the country, which is an export-oriented economy that has historically experienced large trade surpluses. Any affect on this could have dramatic affect on the domestic economy.

The headline figure for trade balance is expressed in millions of Yen and usually accompanied by a year-on-year percentage change figure.

Relevance: Three Star Tends to move markets on release
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly, in the second week after the reporting month
Revisions schedule: Few revisions
Source of report: Ministry of Finance, Customs Office (Japan)
Web address: http://www.mof.go.jp
Address of release: http://www.customs.go.jp/toukei/shinbun/happyou_e.htm
AKA: Japanese Foreign Trade, Japanese Balance of Trade

Convenience Store Sales

Value of items sold at small convenience stores, based on a monthly industry survey. Japanese consumers spend a significant portion of their income at the more than forty thousand convenience stores in the country. In fact Japan has one of the highest convenience store per capita rates in the industrialized world. Even though a significant portion of Japan’s economy depends on global demand for exports, domestic consumption is still very important. Convenience Store Sales give good insight into developments in overall Japanese consumer spending because of the Japanese consumer's reliance on convenience stores to supply everyday necessities. As with most indicators of consumer spending, rapid growth in Convenience Store Sales signals mounting inflationary pressures.

The headline value is the percentage change in store sales from the previous year's sales.

Relevance: Two Star Moderate market impact
Release schedule: 7:00 (GMT); monthly, at the end of the following month
Revisions schedule: None
Source of report: The Japan Franchise Association
Web address: http://jfa.jfa-fc.or.jp/about_jfa_English.html
Address of release: No English version; please refer to a timely source for current financial news in Japan for most recent release

Current Account Total

Called the Current Account Total, summarizes the flow of goods, services, income and transfers in and out of Japan. The Current Account is more expansive than the trade balance as it also includes transfer payments, such as foreign aid, and income flows, which are the returns on investments in foreign assets. Nonetheless, the most significant component of the Japanese current account is the trade balance figure. Japan has historically had an export oriented economy and has relied on exports as the engine for overall economic expansion. Today still, trade surpluses form the foundation of consistent Japanese current account surpluses.

The Current Account is useful as a measure of net international trade flows, which directly affect currency values. A current account surplus reflects Yen flowing into Japan and this puts pressure on Yen to appreciate. On the contrary, a current account deficit means that more Yen are leaving the country from these sources, and this exerts downward pressure on the Yen.

The headline figure is the Yen-value of the Current Account.

Relevance: Two Star Moderate market impact
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly, in the second week after the reporting month
Revisions schedule: Revisions appear in subsequent quarterly and yearly Balance of Payments reports
Source of report: Japanese Ministry of Finance
Web address: http://www.mof.go.jp/english/index.htm
Address of release: http://www.mof.go.jp/bpoffice/e1c004.htm
(In Balance of Payments Report)
AKA: Current Account Balance, Current Account Surplus/ Deficit, CA Balance

Eco Watchers Survey

Asks business-cycle sensitive workers their thoughts on existing and future economic conditions, giving a detailed picture of economic trends in Japan . The survey is based on questionnaires from 'man on the street' sectors that are particularly vulnerable to business cycle turns. These segments of the economy include sectors such as retail, restaurant service, and taxi driving. With this combined data the Japanese Eco Watchers report serves as both a consumer confidence indicator and a leading indicator for the rest of the economy. The report is usually released less than two weeks after the reporting month, thus its statistics are usually very timely. The headline number is released where 50 represents the centre midpoint line of boom/bust sentiment.

Relevance:Two Star Moderate market impact
Release schedule: 6:00 (GMT); monthly, one to two weeks after the reporting month
Revisions schedule: Little or no revisions
Source of report: The Cabinet Office (Japan)
Web address: http://www.cao.go.jp/index-e.html
Address of release: http://www5.cao.go.jp/keizai3/watcher-e/index-e.html
AKA: Eco Watchers, Economy Watchers Survey, Japanese 'Man on the Street' Survey

Employment Situation

The analysis of current conditions and future outlook for the Japanese labour market. The Employment Situation report not only covers current figures regarding employment in Japan, but also forecasts spending and consumption patterns that may lead to higher wages, spending and inflationary pressures. The report releases five potential market-moving figures less than a month after the reporting period. In total these reports are used as an indicator for the overall Japanese economy.

Jobless Rate -One Starthe percentage of the labour force that is unemployed. A lower jobless rate translates into more income-earning workers and greater consumption. Such increased expenditure accelerates economic growth, but can also heighten inflationary pressures. On the other hand, a higher jobless rate tends to precede lower consumer spending and a contracting economy.

Job-to-Application Ratio - One Starcompares the number of jobs advertised to the number of applications received. The ratio measures the ease or effort in finding employment in the Japanese labor market. A higher ratio reflects a higher number of positions per applicant, usually corresponding to economic expansion. A lower ratio reflects fewer jobs per applicant consequent to economic contraction.

Workers Spending - Three Staran estimate of the total monthly expenditure by households headed by wage-earning workers. Workers Spending is the most closely watched figure released in the Family Income and Expenditure Survey and is released at the same time as Japanese Jobless Rate. Workers Spending is closely correlated with business cycle trends and changes are indicative of growth or contraction of domestic demand. It is a significant contributor to overall consumer spending, and growth in the figure suggests an expanding economy and rising inflation. The headline figure is the monthly percentage change in Workers Spending.

Household Spending - Three Stara survey of both wage-earning and non-working households, such as those classified as single-member, unemployed, or retired. The headline figure is the percentage change in average spending per household from the previous year. Increases in household spending are favourable for the Japanese economy because high consumer spending generally leads to higher levels of economic growth. Higher spending is also a sign of consumer optimism, as households confident in their future outlook will spend more. At the same time accelerated growth exerts inflationary pressure, which can lead to interest rate increases in the future.

Personal Income - One Stara measure of income received by Japanese households. The data is based off the Yearly Income and Savings Questionnaire and reported as the percent change from previous months. The figure excludes non traditional households in its calculation; for instance, students living alone or households which manage restaurants, hotels, or boarding houses are not surveyed. Consequently, traders often look to other measures, such as Labour Cash Earnings for a broader gauge of Japanese income.

Relevance: Two Star Moderate market impact
Release schedule: 23:30 (GMT); one month after the reporting period
Revisions schedule: Little or no revisions
Source of report: Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Japan)
Web address: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http://www.stat.go.jp/english/data
Jobless Rate: Labour Force Survey > Latest Monthly Results > Unemployment > Unemployment Rate
JA Ratio: (Only available in Japanese)
Workers Spending: Family Income and Expenditure Survey> Total Households > (Latest Quarter) > (Table #) > Worker's Households > Expenditure
House Spending: Family Income and Expenditure Survey> Total Households > (Latest Quarter) > (Table #) > All Households > Expenditure
Personal Income: Family Income and Expenditure Survey> Total Households > (Latest Quarter ) (Table #) > Household Income

Industrial Production

Volume of items produced in Japan's mining and manufacturing industries. All products, whether sold domestically or abroad, are included in the calculation of industrial production. Industrial production is highly sensitive to the business cycle and can often predict future changes in employment, earnings, and personal income. For these reasons industrial production is considered a reliable leading indicator that conveys information about the overall health of the Japanese economy.

The headline value is the percentage change in the index from the previous month or year.

Relevance: Two Star Moderate market impact
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly; one month after the reporting period
Revisions schedule: Final, revised figures come out two weeks after the preliminary report
Source of report: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
Web address: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/statistics/index.html
AKA: Industrial Production Index, Report on Indices of Industrial Production

All Industry Activity Index

Evaluates the monthly change in overall production by all sectors of the Japanese economy. The Index comprises a variety of industries: service, manufacturing, construction and public sectors are all included. The index closely follows Japanese GDP and overall growth figures, providing insight into current levels of Japanese economic expansion. The All Industry Activity Index is posted monthly as a percentage change from the previous month's figure.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 10:50pm (GMT); monthly, seven to eight weeks after the reporting month
Revisions schedule: Revisions are occasionally made in subsequent months, and final figures appear in the annual report
Source of report: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Japan)
Web address: http://www.meti.go.jp/english
Address of release: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/statistics
AKA: Indices of All Industry Activity

Auto Sales

Number of automobiles sold in Japan each month, based on the number of new auto registrations. The headline figure is the percentage change in the number of new registrations for all types of vehicles. On a month to month basis the number can be volatile due to seasonal and business cycle fluctuations, and because the relatively high cost of individual automobiles can easily weigh changes in the report.

New auto sales account for only 5% of total private consumption, but because expensive outlays such as automobiles are business cycle sensitive the figure is indicative of the overall optimism of the Japanese consumer. New Auto Reg istrations also attracts market attention because it is one of the first consumer spending figures released each month.

Relevance: One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 5:00 (GMT); monthly, on the first business day of the following month
Revisions schedule: Little or no revisions
Source of report: Japan Automobile Dealers Association
Web address: http://www.jama-english.jp/statistics/index.html
Address of release: http://jamaserv.jama.or.jp/newdb/eng/index.html
AKA: New Auto registrations

Bank Lending

Value of all outstanding loans with Japanese banks. Bank lending is important because lending increases with increased business confidence and investment. It is particularly insightful for the Japanese economy because of the weakness that has plagued the Japanese banking sector. The headline number is for total loans and discounts and is a percentage change from the previous year.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly, in the second week of the following month
Revisions schedule: Few, only as necessary
Source of report: Bank of Japan
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/theme/research/stat/dl/zan/kashi/index.htm
AKA: Total Loans and Discounts

Bankruptcies

Measures the number of companies that filed for bankruptcy in the last month, with liabilities of over 10 million Yen. The headline figure is the number of cases in all Japan for the last month. As an economic indicator the bankruptcies report is ambiguous. A high value can certainly indicate weakness in the Japanese economy, but the number of bankruptcies can fall even as the economy worsens. Generally a higher number of bankruptcies will be part of a larger picture of economic weakness, which can be a depreciating weight on a currency.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 4:00 (GMT); monthly, in the third week of the following month
Revisions schedule: Little or no revisions
Source of report: Teikoku Databank Ltd. (Japan)
Web address: http://www.tdb.co.jp/english
Address of release: http://www.tdb.co.jp/english/news_reports/bankruptcy.html
AKA: Bankruptcy Report

BoJ Monetary Policy Meeting and Announcement

The Bank of Japan Policy Board meets once a month for two days to discuss economic developments inside and outside of the country. The culmination of the meeting is the announcement of any adjustments to interest rates or other aspects of monetary policy.

Like any central bank the BOJ is tasked with ensuring price stability while taking into account economic growth, employment, and recommendations from the elected government. With this goal in mind, a "Guideline for Money Market Operations" is established at each meeting. Changes in the rate have far-reaching consequences, affecting consumer loans, mortgages, bonds and the exchange rate of the Yen. The statement is the Bank of Japan's collective outlook on the economy as well as a source for clues on future monetary policy decisions. When it comes to interest rates, the future direction of rates is usually far more important than its current rate

Relevance: One StarTends to move markets on release
Release schedule: No set time, usually between 2:00 and 4:00 (GMT); monthly, in the middle of the month
Source of report: Bank of Japan
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/index.htm
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/theme/seisaku/kettei/index.htm
Schedule of meetings: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/theme/seisaku/index.htm
AKA: Bank of Japan Rate Decision

Broad Liquidity

Widest measure of the money supply used by the Bank of Japan. It incorporates all forms of money included in M3 as well as bonds, trusts and other similar monetary instruments. Changes in broadly-defined liquidity closely follow changes in the total money supply and give information about the direction of inflation. It is therefore of particular importance to the Bank of Japan's interest rate decisions.

Growth in the money supply is correlated with higher output, and any increase in the money stock places upward pressure on prices, and downward pressure on the Yen. The headline figure is the percentage change from the previous year.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly, in the second week of the following month
Revisions schedule: Revised and seasonally-adjusted annually
Source of report: Bank of Japan
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/theme/research/stat/money/ms/index.htm
AKA: Broadly-Defined Liquidity

Capacity Utilisation

Measures the extent to which Japanese manufacturing companies make use of their installed productive capacity (factories and machinery). Capacity utilisation reflects overall growth and demand in the economy. High capacity utilisation usually exerts inflationary pressures as scarce resources are in high demand. However, it may also lead to new capital investments, such as new plants, that promote growth in the future.

As a technical note, capacity utilisation is referred to as Operating Ratio by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and indexed to the year 2000 with a base value of 100. The headline figure is the percentage change in the index from the previous month or previous year.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 4:30 (GMT); monthly, in the middle of the following month
Revisions schedule: Revised two weeks following the release of the preliminary report and annually when seasonal adjustments are made
Source of report: Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Web address: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/statistics/index.html
Refer to the Revised Report on Indices of Industrial Production, Operating Ratio.
AKA: Capacity Utilisation Rate, Operating Ratio

Capital Spending

Investment in new capital by Japanese corporations. Capital spending serves as an important indicator of growth, and plays large part in GDP. As capital spending increases it also suggests optimism in the economy. Businesses and consumers overall are apt to purchase expensive capital only when they foresee an expansion that would rationalize the expenditure. This is therefore one of the earliest signals of significant corporate escalation that can lead to real growth in the Japanese economy.

The headline figure is the percentage change from the previous year.

Relevance: One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); quarterly, with a two month lag
Revisions schedule: Revised annually
Source of report: Ministry of Finance (Japan)
Web address: http://www.mof.go.jp/english
Address of release: http://www.mof.go.jp/english/e1c002.htm
(Under "Summary Materials" open the most recent report and look under "Investment in Plant and Equipment." 'Total' includes two numbers, the top Capital Spending including Software, the bottom simply Capital Spending )
AKA: Investment in Plant and Equipment

Capital Spending Including Software

Tracks all investment by Japanese corporations in new capital including expenditure on software, electronics and IT-related products. Capital spending including software is separate from regular capital spending because software is significantly different investment than traditional forms of capital such as machinery. Software is not physical capital, has little or no resale value, and generally becomes obsolete far faster than traditional capital.

Overall, capital spending serves as an important indicator of growth and plays large part in GDP. This means that as capital spending increases it signals a corporate expansion and leads to future growth in the Japanese economy. Furthermore, as a gauge of corporate spending this figure is also indicative of business confidence. The headline figure is the percentage change from the previous year.

Relevance: One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); quarterly, with a two month lag
Revisions schedule: Revised annually
Source of report: Ministry of Finance (Japan)
Web address: http://www.mof.go.jp/english
Address of release: http://www.mof.go.jp/english/e1c002.htm
(Under "Summary Materials" open the most recent report and look under "Investment in Plant and Equipment." - Total' includes two numbers, the top Capital Spending including Software, the bottom simply Capital Spending )
AKA: Investment in Plant and Equipment

Coincident Index

Measures the current economic activity based on a composite of indicators that track current business conditions in Japan. The headline number is derived by comparing the number of expanding indicators to the total number of indicators used. A headline number reading of 50% means that half of the available indicators are expanding.

Included in the index are; the expansion or contraction of industrial production, capacity utilisation, retail and wholesale sales, power consumption, non-scheduled work hours, the job-offer rate and operating profits.

Relevance:One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule:5:00 (GMT); quarterly
Source of report: The Cabinet Office (Japan)
Web address: http://www.cao.go.jp/index-e.html
Address of release: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/en/stat/menu.html#di
Refer to Index of Business Conditions and to the most recent entry for Coincident Index

Construction Orders

Provides information on how many orders were received by construction companies to begin work. The report is compiled into three categories, type of firm (private manufacturer, governmental), region, and type of construction project. Since orders for construction serve as one of the earliest signals of expanded housing supply, the report is a leading indicator for the overall housing market. Also, because of the high outlays needed for construction projects high Construction Orders also suggest optimism for corporate or consumer spending. Lastly, due to the multiplier effect housing has on the economy; building indicators are popular leading indicators for the rest of the economy.

The headline is the percentage change in new construction orders over the previous year.

Relevance: One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 5:00 (GMT); monthly, on the last day of the following month
Revisions schedule: Little or no revisions
Source of report: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Japan)
Web address: http://www.mlit.go.jp/english
Address of release: http://www.mlit.go.jp/toukeijouhou/chojou/stat-e.htm
(The Current Survey on Orders Received)
AKA: The Current Survey on Orders Received

Construction Starts

Provides information on how many new buildings are to be constructed in Japan . It includes the region, the type of building (commercial or government), and whether it is a renovation or a new building. This report can be used as a supply side indicator for the housing and construction market. A declining amount of Building Construction Starts suggests a cooling in the construction market, whereas an increase from month to month suggests an expanding construction market. However, a high number of construction starts in a market with low demand for new buildings and housing will result in excess demand and a drop in housing prices.

The housing market has a multiplier effect on the rest of the economy and the construction starts are one of the earliest signals for real growth in the housing market. Therefore, the Japanese Cabinet Office uses Construction starts to compile their overall economic leading indicator index.

The headline value is the percentage change in construction starts compared to that of the previous month

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 5:00 (GMT); monthly, on the last day of the following month
Revisions schedule: Vary according to seasonal changes
Source of report: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Japan)

Consumer Confidence

Measure of popular sentiment concerning the Japanese economy. The figure is derived from a survey that asks thousands of Japanese consumers about personal expenditure patterns and inflationary expectations. In general, rising consumer confidence precedes increased consumer spending, which drives both economic growth and inflation. Even though t he Japanese economy is heavily driven by its export sector, domestic consumer confidence is an important gauge of overall economic activity and future inflationary pressures.

A headline figure above 50 shows positive consumer sentiment, while a number below 50 shows negative consumer sentiment; the greater the distance, the stronger the sentiment.

Relevance: One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule:5:00 (GMT); monthly, in the middle of the month following the reporting month
Source of report: The Cabinet Office (Japan)
Web address: http://www.cao.go.jp/index-e.html
Address of release: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/en/stat/shouhi/0603shouhi-e.html
AKA: Consumer Confidence Survey

Department Store Sales

Total value of goods sold by major department store outlets. As the first non-auto consumption indicator released each month, the Department Store Sales figure can be used to forecast overall household spending. An increase in Department Store Sales signals consumer confidence and growth in the economy. The headline figures are for nationwide sales and Tokyo area sales. The figure does not include auto sales, which are counted separately by the Japan Automobile Dealers Association, and is not seasonally adjusted.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 5:30 (GMT); monthly, in the middle of the following month
Revisions schedule: No revisions
Source of report: Japan Department Store Association (JDSA)
Web address: http://www.depart.or.jp
Address of release: http://www.depart.or.jp(Japanese only)

Export Price Index (EPI)

Tracks changes in the prices that Japanese firms receive for the products they export. Increases in the EPI are normally due to either stronger demand abroad or higher production costs in Japan. Generally only increases in the EPI due to robust international demand are beneficial to the Japanese economy as a whole.

The effect of an increase in the EPI on the exchange rate is ambiguous. A rise can bolster the value of the Yen because it means that foreigners require more Yen to purchase Japanese goods. However, a rise in the index can also hurt the Yen if the higher prices make Japanese goods less competitive and reduce the total value of exports.

The headline is the percentage change in the index from the previous month or year.

Relevance: One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly, on the second Monday of the following month
Revisions schedule: Little revision
Source of report: Bank of Japan, Research and Statistics Department
Web address: http://www.stat.go.jp/english/index/official/213.htm
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/type/stat/dlong/price/cgpi/index.htm

GDP Deflator

Broad gauge of inflationary pressures. The GDP Deflator is different from the Consumer Price Index in that it does not take into account changes in the prices of imports and tends to underestimate price changes. The Gross Domestic Product Deflator is also untimely, released quarterly about two months after the reporting period. Nonetheless, it is highly correlated with the CPI and a key indicator of inflation. Consequently, the deflator provides insight into the future direction of monetary policy as the Bank of Japan is inclined to raise interest rates when faced with higher inflation.

Specifically the deflator measures the magnitude of changes in prices for all domestically produced final goods. It is the ratio of output in current prices (nominal GDP) to inflation-adjusted output (real GDP). The headline value is the percentage change in the GDP Deflator from the previous quarter.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); quarterly, two months after the reporting period
Revisions schedule: Revised as GDP numbers are revised
Source of report: Economic and Social Research Institute (Japan)
Web address: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/index-e.html
Address of release: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/en/sna/qe061-2/gdemenuea.html
AKA: GDP implicit price deflator

Housing Starts

Reflects the rate of growth in housing construction. The number of housing starts is an indicator of the strength Japan’s construction sector and a leading indicator for the direction of the economy as a whole. Housing Starts respond quickly to changes in the business cycle, promptly slowing at the onset of a recession and growing at the beginning of an economic boom. A high Housing Starts figure is generally bullish for the economy, as it indicates overall economic growth.

The headline figures are the year on year percentage change in value of housing starts, and the value of all houses started for construction that year.

Relevance:One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 5:00 (GMT); monthly, on the last day of the following month
Revisions schedule: Little or no revisions
Source of report: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Japan)
Web address: http://www.mlit.go.jp/english
Address of release: http://www.mlit.go.jp/toukeijouhou/chojou/stat-e.htm
AKA: Annualized Housing Starts

Labour Cash Earnings

Average amount of pre-tax earnings per regular employee, including overtime pay and bonuses. Though the report does not take into account all sources of household income (accumulated wealth and capital gains from financial assets are omitted), Labour Cash Earnings accurately reflects the spending ability of domestic consumers, one of the driving forces behind economic growth. Because growth in wages fuels higher consumption, rising Labour Cash Earnings generally lead to higher inflation.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 1:30 (GMT); monthly, one month following the reporting period
Revisions schedule: Final report is released approximately two weeks after the provisional report's release
Source of report: Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Japan)
Web address: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/database/db-l/index.html
AKA: Average Monthly Cash Earnings per Regular Employee, Labour Cash Earnings

Large Retailers' Sales

Total value of goods sold in large department stores, chain convenience stores, and supermarkets in a particular month. The report serves as a direct gauge of consumption and consumer confidence. Consumer spending is one of the most important leading indicators for the Japanese economy. An increasing number of sales can signal consumer confidence and economic growth, but higher consumption can also leads to inflationary pressures.

Retail Sales can be volatile due to seasonal fluctuations in demand. Thus the headline figure is the seasonally adjusted percentage change in sales compared to the previous year.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly, at the end of the following month
Revisions schedule: Little to no revisions
Source of report: Industrial Statistics Office, Research and Statistics Department, Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry (Japan)
Web address: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/statistics/data/h2s1000e.html
(under "Large-scale Retail Stores")
AKA: Preliminary report on the Current Survey of Commerce

Machine Orders

Total value of machinery orders placed at major manufacturers in Japan . Machine Orders is considered the best leading indicator of business capital spending, and increases are indicative of stronger business confidence and a better forward outlook. Higher capital spending is also positive for the Japanese employment situation, as companies will generally require new employees to run new machinery. The headline figure is the seasonally-adjusted month-on-month and annualized percentage change.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 5:00 (GMT); monthly, in the middle of the second month following the reporting period
Revisions schedule: Annual revision in March
Source of report: Economic and Social Research Institute (Japan)
Web address: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/index-e.html
Address of release: http://www.esri.cao.go.jp/en/stat/menu.html
AKA: Machinery Orders, Orders Received for Machinery

Machine Tool Orders

Tracks trends in machine tool orders placed by major manufacturers in Japan . Machine Tool Orders is considered a leading indicator of business capital spending, and increases are indicative of stronger business confidence and a better future outlook. Higher capital spending is also positive for the Japanese employment situation, as companies will generally require new employees to run and maintain new machinery.

The Machine Tool Orders figure tracks closely with the Machine Orders figure put out by the Economic and Social Research Institute, but tend to affect the market more since it is released nearly a month earlier.

The headline figure is the percentage change from the previous month or year.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 5:00 (GMT); monthly, in the second week of the following month
Revisions schedule: No revisions
Source of report: Japan Machine Tool Builders Association (JMTBA)
Web address: http://www.jmtba.or.jp/english
Address of release: http://www.jmtba.or.jp/english/main_Frame03.html

Monetary Base

Currency supplied by the Bank of Japan. The Monetary Base includes all banknotes and coins in circulation plus all currency held as deposits by the Bank of Japan. As an official measure of the Japanese money supply, the Monetary Base will show the immediate impacts of monetary policy actions and can give an indication into the future direction of inflation. An expansion in the monetary base is generally inflationary while a decline will likely have the opposite effect.

The headline figure is the percent change from the previous year.

Relevance: One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); on the 2nd business day of the following month
Revisions schedule: Annually, in February when seasonal adjustments are made
Source of report: Bank of Japan
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/theme/research/stat/money/mb/index.htm

Money Supply M2 + CD

Measure of the money supply used by the Bank of Japan. The figure includes all currency in circulation plus all bank deposits. This indicator tends to track closely with the total money supply. The figure focuses mostly on individual deposit accounts rather than institutional accounts, making it a more attractive money indicator than broad liquidity measures.

The headline figure is the percentage change from the previous year

Relevance: One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT), monthly, in the second week of the following month
Revisions schedule: Revised and seasonally-adjusted annually
Source of report: Bank of Japan
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/theme/research/stat/money/ms/index.htm
AKA: Money Stock

Official Reserve Assets

The wealth controlled by the Bank of Japan. Japan holds enormous reserves of foreign currencies, currently holding the largest foreign reserve of American Dollars in the world. Central Banks have recently moved to diversify their currency reserves; the shift has been away from the traditionally favoured Dollar toward other currencies like the Euro. Because of the size and influence of the Bank of Japan's huge Reserve Assets, adjustments can radically alter the supply of a currency in the market and sway other banks to act. Long term trends in the Bank's reserve asset figures merit close attention.

All these assets help Japan ensure its financial well-being when faced with economic or geo-political issues. In particular, large foreign currency reserves give the BOJ the freedom to exert a measure of control over its exchange rate by manipulating the supply of foreign currencies.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:00 (GMT); every 10 days
Revisions schedule: No revisions
Source of report: Bank of Japan
Web address: http://www.boj.or.jp/en
Address of release: http://www.boj.or.jp/en/type/stat/boj_stat/ac/ac060610.htm
AKA: Bank of Japan Assets

Overtime Earnings

Average earnings per employee for time worked in excess of scheduled working hours. During times of economic contraction companies are less likely to hire additional labour. As demand picks up companies generally ask staff to work overtime before adding additional workings. When it becomes clear that increases in demand are steady, companies are more inclined to hire extra labour to meet demand. Thus Overtime Earnings can be a leading indicator for economic growth and forecast employment trends.

Relevance: One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 1:30 (GMT); monthly, in the fourth or fifth week following the reporting month
Revisions schedule: Final report is released approximately two weeks after the provisional report's release
Source of report: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Japan)
Web address: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/database/db-l/index.html
AKA: Non-Scheduled Earnings

Shipments

Total value of products shipped by the mining and manufacturing industries. Like Industrial Production, Shipments is indicative of market demand. The figure is often examined along with inventory data to gleam insight into supply and demand trends in Japan’s manufacturing sector. Higher shipments and decreasing inventories indicate strong market demand which typically leads to economic expansion and possible inflationary pressures.

The headline is the seasonally-adjusted percentage change in shipments from the previous month.

Relevance:One StarRarely affects markets
Release schedule: 23:50 (GMT); monthly; a month after the reporting period
Revisions schedule: Final, revised figures come out two weeks after the preliminary report
Source of report: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Japan)
Web address: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/index.html
Address of release: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/statistics/index.html

Small Business Confidence

Measure of small businesses optimism. As small businesses tend to be more sensitive to business cycle developments, Small Business Confidence can precede or confirm larger economic trends. Small businesses are usually the first to falter during a recession and among the first to prosper during an expansion, so larger trends often appear early in the Small Business sector. Furthermore, small and medium enterprises make a large contribution to overall GDP, so a weak climate for small business may mean that the overall health of the economy is in jeopardy. Like any measure of business confidence, a high figure for Small Business Confidence will be positive because confidence is usually accompanied by increased business investment that leads to higher levels of output in the future.

The headline figure is presented as an index where a number over 50 indicates that most businesses believe conditions are improving, and a value under 50 indicates that most businesses believe conditions are deteriorating.

Relevance:One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 5:00 (GMT); monthly, near the end of the reporting month or the beginning of the following month
Revisions schedule: None
Source of report: Shoko Chukin Bank
Web address: http://www.shokochukin.go.jp
(Japanese Only)

Tokyo Condominium Sales

Annualised change in the value of condominiums sold each month within the capital. Although the Tokyo Condominium Sales report focuses on a narrow portion of Japan's housing sector, the figure is timely, coming out just two weeks after the reporting more, and has served as a leading indicator of the direction of the overall housing market. The number is sometimes used to gauge strength in consumer spending.

As a measure of the real estate market, the figure responds quickly to changes in the business cycle, promptly slowing at the onset of a recession and growing at the beginning of an economic boom. Increasing sales are generally bullish for the economy, as they indicate economic growth to come.

The headline figure is the annualized percentage change in Condominium Sales.

Relevance: One Star Rarely affects markets
Release schedule: 4:00 (GMT); monthly, 2 weeks after the reporting period
Revisions schedule: Little or no revisions
Source of report: The Real Estate Economic Institute of Japan
Web address: http://www.reinet.or.jp/e/index.htm

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