Industrial output falls for first time in three months

The nation’s industrial production fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in September from a month earlier, marking the first decline in three months, the government said in a preliminary report Tuesday.

The index of output at mines and factories stood at 97.8, against the 1995 base of 100, according to the report issued by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The ministry left unchanged its overall assessment of industrial output, but raised more caution over its prospects.

“Overall, production is on a gradual upward trend,” the ministry claimed, repeating the same assessment it has given since June.

But the ministry added a phrase showing its concern over the outlook.

“Downward movements are seen” in some sectors, it said. “There is a need to closely monitor future developments, as the trend of final demand remains unclear.”

A ministry official said some worrisome factors are emerging over production, as the strength of output in such sectors as the electric and steel sectors appears to be weakening.

Uncertainties over the strength of the U.S. economy have been clouding the outlook of the Japanese economy, which has been on a gradual upward trend on the back of brisk exports.

Production of transport machinery fell 1.8 percent from August, while that of electric machinery slid 0.8 percent and steel declined 0.9 percent.

Output of fabricated metals gained 3 percent as relatively hot weather in the month boosted sales of beer and soft drinks.

In September, the index of industrial shipments fell 2.3 percent to 100.4 — the first fall in two months — and industrial inventories increased 0.6 percent to 87.8, posting the first rise in two months.

The ministry said it projects industrial production to rise 1.2 percent in October but decrease 1.4 percent the following month.

In the July-September quarter, production rose 2.1 percent from the previous quarter, for the third consecutive quarter of increase to 97.5.

Shipments increased 1.7 percent to 100.7, marking the third straight quarter of growth, and inventories increased 0.3 percent in the quarter to 87.8.