Japan's industrial output rises for fifth month

TOKYO • Japan's industrial output rose for the fifth straight month in October, fuelled by stronger machinery and car production, suggesting the economy is recovering further from the damage caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

The world's third-largest economy rebounded sharply in the third quarter from a pandemic-induced slump, thanks to a record surge in private consumption and stronger overseas demand that boosted exports and output.

Official data released yesterday showed factory output jumped 3.8 in October from the previous month, mainly due to strength in general machinery production and motor vehicle manufacturing.

The solid increase beat the median market forecast of a 2.1 per cent rise in a Reuters poll of economists, and was in line with the prior month's 3.9 per cent gain.

Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry expected output to grow another 2.7 per cent in November and to decline 2.4 per cent in December.

The government kept its assessment of industrial production unchanged, saying it was picking up.

Separate data showed retail sales posted their first year-on-year gain in eight months in October after consumers sharply curtailed spending in October last year following a sales tax hike at that time.

Retail sales jumped 6.4 per cent in October, matching a 6.4 per cent gain expected by economists in a Reuters poll and turning around from an 8.7 per cent drop in the previous month.

Some analysts worry the recovery will lose steam as a resurgence in coronavirus infections at home and abroad is expected to weigh on demand due to slowing corporate and consumer activity.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga instructed his Cabinet earlier last month to compile a package of stimulus measures to speed up the country's economic recovery.

The package is expected to target structural changes, support environmental investment and boost productivity through digitalisation.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2020, with the headline 'Japan's industrial output rises for fifth month'. Print Edition | Subscribe