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Japan’s December core machinery orders up 6.7%

JIJI

Japan’s seasonally adjusted core machinery orders in December rose by 6.7 percent from the previous month, the Cabinet Office said Thursday.

Private-sector orders excluding those for ships and power equipment, closely watched as a leading indicator of corporate capital spending, totaled ¥889.8 billion. In November, the core orders fell 5.1 percent, according to the government agency.

Core machinery orders from manufacturers grew 1.0 percent to ¥367 billion, up for the second consecutive month, reflecting brisk demand from chemical firms and nonferrous metal producers.

Such orders from nonmanufacturers increased by 3.5 percent to ¥500.2 billion, backed by active investment in machines in the transport, postal service and construction sectors.

Meanwhile, core machinery orders for October-December edged down 0.2 percent quarter on quarter to ¥2,601.8 billion after a rise in July-September, but the drop was far smaller than the initially estimated 5.9 percent.

Analyzing the latest data, the Cabinet Office upheld the view that machinery order recovery has come to a halt.

The office forecast the core orders will go up 3.3 percent in January-March. But it remains to be seen whether such a high increase will actually be realized amid growing concerns over the spread of protectionism and the recurrence of trade disputes between Japan and the United States, analysts said.

The survey was conducted before U.S. President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20.