Japan's factory output rises 4% in April

An employee of Ezaki Glico works on a Pocky production line at the company's Kitamoto factory in Kitamoto, north of Tokyo, on Oct 16, 2014.
An employee of Ezaki Glico works on a Pocky production line at the company's Kitamoto factory in Kitamoto, north of Tokyo, on Oct 16, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese factory output rose 4.0 per cent in April from the previous month, official figures showed on Wednesday (May 31), bolstering data indicating the world's third-largest economy is finally seeing moderate expansion.

However, the figure was slightly down on market expectations of a 4.2 per cent rise and came a day after data showed consumer demand remains weak despite years of government efforts to boost spending.

The positive reading comes after it factory output fell 1.9 per cent in March, according to data released by the ministry of economy, trade and industry.

The ministry also reviewed upwards its prospects for factory output in May from a 3.7 per cent fall to a 2.5 per cent fall, and expects output will rise 1.8 per cent in June.

Japan's prospects have been improving on the back of strong exports, with investment linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics also giving the economy a shot in the arm.

Official figures earlier showed Japan's economy grew 0.5 per cent in the first three months of the year - or a 2.2 per cent annualised growth rate.

That was its fifth straight quarterly rise and the longest string of gains since 2006.