Tuesday, Japan's retail sales fell for the seventh straight month in March. South Korean consumer confidence jumped in April as concerns over the economic downturn eased among households on positive current balance and increased assets value such as stock prices.

Japanese retail sales were down 3.9% on-year in March, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. That was better than analyst expectations for a 4.9% annual decline following a revised 5.7% fall in February. It was the seventh consecutive month of decline. Large retailers saw sales decline drop 8.1%

On a monthly basis, retail sales were down 1.1% - worse than forecasts for a 0.4% decline following the revised 0.2% contraction.

For the first quarter of 2009, retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 4% on-year. Large-scale retail sales fell an annual 7.2% the first three months of the year.

Confidence amongst Japan's small and medium sized companies rose to 30.8 in April from 30.4 in March, a report from the Shoko Chukin Bank showed. Economists were expecting the indicator to rise to 31.

The Bank of Korea said the consumer confidence that measures sentiment in six categories stood at 98 in April, up from 84 last month, The April reading was the highest since the central bank started to compile monthly series in July 2008.

Also on Tuesday, the Bank of Korea released minutes of the rate-setting meeting on March 12, which showed one policymaker voted against holding the key interest rate at a record low of 2%. Kang Myung-hun called for 25 basis points cut to 1.75%.

The South Korean central bank held the rate for the second straight month in April to assess the impact of previous six rate cuts.

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