Japan factory output up 1.7% in April

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's industrial production picked up in April with a 1.7 per cent rise over a month earlier, official data showed on Friday, as Tokyo works to stoke growth in the world's third-largest economy.

In a statement, the economy ministry said the month-on-month rise was evidence that "industrial production shows signs of picking up at a moderate pace".

However, a survey of manufacturers released with the data showed that producers were cautious, predicting that factory output for May would be flat and then fall 1.4 per cent in June.

Separate data on Friday showed that Japan's consumer prices fell 0.4 per cent year-on-year in April, underscoring the country's tough task in pulling the economy out of years of deflation that have crimped private spending and business investment.

Meanwhile, the nation's jobless rate was flat at 4.1 per cent in April, the lowest level since November 2008, according to official data.