Japan's April factory output at 6-year high

TOKYO • Japan's factory output in April rose at its fastest pace in six years, government data showed yesterday, in the latest sign that the economy is gathering steam.

Industrial production expanded 4 per cent, rebounding from a decline in March and rising at its quickest rate since June 2011 when it grew 4.2 per cent. The figures come a day after separate data showed consumer demand remains weak despite years of government efforts to boost spending.

Still, the latest output numbers are good news for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who swept to power in late 2012 on a pledge to reignite Japan's once-booming economy with a policy blitz comprising massive monetary easing, stimulus spending and structural reforms.

The figures "show that production will be strong in the April- June quarter, underpinning the view that the economy is on a recovery path", Mr Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, told Agence France-Presse.

Japan's prospects have been improving on the back of strong exports, with investment linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics also giving the world's No. 3 economy a shot in the arm. JThe country's gross domestic product notched up its fifth straight expansion in the first quarter, the longest string of gains since 2006.

The labour market is tight as separate data on Tuesday showed the nation's jobless rate stayed at 2.8 per cent in April, the lowest in more than two decades.

But private consumption remains lacklustre as cash-rich firms have been reluctant to usher in big pay hikes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2017, with the headline 'Japan's April factory output at 6-year high'. Print Edition | Subscribe