Industrial output logs slight decline

Kyodo

Industrial production slipped 0.1 percent in February from the previous month for the first decline in three months on weaker demand for electronic parts and devices in China and other markets, the industry ministry said Friday.

But as the fall was negligible and many other sectors advanced, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry maintained its basic assessment of production in its preliminary report, saying it “has bottomed out and shows some signs of picking up.”

The seasonally adjusted index of output at factories and mines stood at 89.0 against the base of 100 for 2005. The index of industrial shipments rose 0.8 percent to 90.7 while that of inventories fell 2.0 percent to 102.6.

By sector, the production of electronic parts and devices makers shed 5.0 percent amid sluggish output of parts used in smartphones and mobile phones for shipment to China and other parts of Asia.

“The decline in overall industrial production can be mostly attributed to the fall in this sector,” a METI official said.

Transport equipment makers, meanwhile, saw a 1.8 percent rise in output, up for the third consecutive monthly, partly backed by firm demand for cars shipped to North America and other overseas markets. The output of general machinery makers also advanced, by 1.3 percent, and that of iron and steel makers by 2.1 percent.

Looking ahead, manufacturers polled by METI forecast that production will increase 1.0 percent in March and 0.6 percent in April.