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mainichi– TOKYO (Kyodo) — A key index reflecting the current state of the Japanese economy rose at a faster pace in October, climbing for the fifth straight month in yet another sign that the economy is emerging from the initial hit of the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Monday.

The Cabinet Office’s preliminary data for the coincident index of business conditions in the reporting month rose 4.9 points from the previous month to 89.7 against the 2015 base of 100, marking the second-largest increase since comparable figures became available in January 1985. It was up 6.0 points in July.

The improvement was helped by strong year-on-year growth of sales and shipments of cars and home appliances, partially reflecting a consumption tax hike in Oct. 1 last year, a government official told reporters. The reading climbed 1.4 points in August and 2.4 points in September.

Although the index remained below the reading of 94.5 logged in February, it topped 89.3 in March when the economy had yet to see the impact of the government’s state of emergency declaration over the pandemic in April.

The index has continued to improve since it dropped to 71.7 in May. The state of emergency declaration was fully lifted late that month.

The May figure was the worst since 71.1 logged in April 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

The office maintained its assessment that the economy is “bottoming out” after an upward revision in August from the view that the economy was “worsening,” the most pessimistic of its five assessment levels.

The leading index of business conditions, forecasting the situation in the coming months, also rose 0.5 point to 93.8 in the reporting month, up for the fifth consecutive month.