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Japanese Consumer Confidence Edges Up - 2002-07-26

In Japan, consumer confidence edges up, and an entertainment giant reports a turnaround.

Sony released stronger than expected results for the second quarter of this year, with its new movie "Spiderman" boosting its profit. It posted a net profit of $481 million for the three months ending in June, a rebound from a loss in the same period a year earlier.

The company attributes its performance to brisk sales of televisions, personal computers and other products, as well as growth in its movie business and game division.

But the company remains concerned about the strong yen, which makes its products more expensive for overseas buyers. The volatile American stock market and uncertain outlook for the U.S. economy are also worrisome.

Teruhisa Tokunaka, Sony's vice-president and chief financial officer, says his company will manage the business with a greater sense of crisis, given the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. economy and the dollar-yen exchange rate.

Consumer confidence in Japan improved slightly, according to the latest survey from the Cabinet Office. The quarterly index rose to 39.3 in June, up from 38.4 in March. The figures reflect cautious optimism about Japan's economy, which recently emerged from a recession.

Passengers on Japan Airlines, the nation's biggest carrier, will soon be able to surf the Web while in the air. The company says it will install a new high-speed Internet system, developed by Boeing of the United States, in 10 of its planes that fly between Japan and Europe.

The service uses an antenna to beam signals at a rapid rate. Passengers will pay around $20 per flight to use the service, which British Airways and Lufthansa of Germany are also testing.