TOKYO, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Corporate sales in Japan dropped for the first time in three years in the July-September quarter, the government said in a report on Monday.
According to the Finance Ministry, domestic firms' total sales in the reporting period fell 2.6 percent from a year earlier to 349.50 trillion yen (3.19 trillion U.S. dollars).
The decline came on the heels of a 0.4 percent rise booked in the previous quarter, the ministry's statistics showed, with the latest decline being partly attributed to declines on petroleum product prices.
Companies in manufacturing industries, specifically those related to metal production and making telecommunication equipment, weighed heavily in terms of sales, the ministry noted.
As for those in the non-manufacturing sector, a drop in crude oil prices in the reporting period adversely affected wholesalers whose sales in value terms of oil-related products booked marked declines, said the ministry.
Sales of some retailers such as electric appliance stores logged increases in the quarter, however, as consumer demand spiked ahead of the Oct. 1 consumption tax hike from 8 to 10 percent.
Pretax profits at companies booked losses, however, the ministry said, retreating 5.1 percent to 17.32 trillion yen in the quarter, with the decline following a 12 percent slump booked in the previous quarter, the ministry said.
On a seasonally-adjusted basis, capital expenditure dropped 0.8 percent in the July-September quarter.
A ministry official was quoted as saying that the data reflected the government's view that the economy here has been "recovering at a moderate pace."
Owing to a drop in sales and profits at companies, however, local economists pointed out that firms' expenditure could be cut looking ahead, which could weigh on the economy and thus the government's "optimistic" assessment.