RTTNews - An index measuring tertiary industrial activity in Japan fell a seasonally adjusted 4.0 percent in March compared to the previous month, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Thursday, posting a score of 100.8.

That was sharply lower than analyst expectations that had called for a 1.5 percent monthly decline following the revised 1.3 percent monthly easing in February.

Components finishing lower led by an 11.4 percent decline on year in the communications industry. Retail trade was off 7.1 percent, while health care fell 3.1 percent, electricity dropped 1.4 percent, transportation eased 1.1 percent, real estate lost 0.6 percent, services fell 0.3 percent and financials lost 0.1 percent.

Finishing higher, learning support and compound services both were up an annual 2.2 percent, while restaurants gained 1.4 percent.

Through the first three months of the year, tertiary industrial activity was down 3.2 percent compared to the previous quarter with a score of 104.1. In the previous quarter, the index was off 1.7 percent.

The services sector employs more than half of Japan's workforce. Spending on services such as retailing, dining and travel is closely tied to changes in income and consumer confidence.

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