Industrial production edged up 0.2 percent in March from February for the fourth consecutive monthly rise, partly backed by firm demand for electronic parts and other items in Asia, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a preliminary report Tuesday.
Although the rise was modest, METI upgraded its basic assessment of production for the first time since January, citing “signs of picking up at a moderate pace.”
“The index marked a rise in the January-March period for the first time in four quarters and key sectors, except for transport equipment makers, increased production (in March) on the back of a pickup of exports,” a METI official said.
The seasonally adjusted index of output at factories and mines stood at 89.8 against the base of 100 for 2005.
Looking ahead, manufacturers polled by the ministry anticipated that output would increase 0.8 percent in April and fall 0.3 percent in May.
By sector, production by the chemical industry advanced 5.3 percent in March as shipments of synthetic rubber increased to such countries as Thailand and Malaysia, the official said.
Electronic parts and devices makers saw production grow 4.7 percent, reflecting demand for components for smartphones in Asia, including China, while information and communications electronics equipment makers advanced 7.9 percent.