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TOKYO: Japanese bank deposits rose in February at the fastest annual pace of record, data showed on Monday, as a renewed wave of coronavirus infections prodded households to save rather than spend.

The data underscores the pain consumers are feeling from the prolonged battle with the pandemic, which is hitting wage growth and could delay Japan’s already fragile economic recovery.

Total deposits held by Japanese banks stood at 805.6 trillion yen ($7.4 trillion) in February, up a record 10.0% from a year ago following a 9.8% gain in January, Bank of Japan data showed.

“Deposits rose notably among households, likely due to a renewed rise in COVID-19 infections. We’re seeing households hold off on spending,” a BOJ official told a briefing.

Total bank lending was also up 6.2% in February as sectors hit hard by the pandemic, such as restaurants and hotels, took on additional loans to weather the pain, the data showed. Japan’s economy expanded an annualised 12.7% in the fourth quarter of last year thanks to a rebound in overseas demand that boosted exports.

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