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Growth in Japan retail sales slackens in May as stimulus measures fade

TOKYO --- Japan's retail sales expanded for the fifth straight month in May, though growth in spending lost momentum as government stimulus measures fade. Retail sales rose 2.8 percent from the same month a year earlier, the government said Monday. The result compares with gains of almost 5 percent in both March and April and marks the slowest growth since January.

Compared with the previous month, retails sales in May fell a seasonally adjusted 2 percent in the first decline in five months. Autos and household machinery sales were particularly weak, reflecting the waning effects of consumer incentives for cars and energy-efficient home appliances.

Despite the latest figure, economists say they expect consumer spending to stay solid in the months ahead as Japan's economy improves. Robust exports have led to higher corporate profits and factory production, which is gradually filtering down to workers and households.

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