Domestic core private-sector machinery orders in May rose a seasonally adjusted 4.5 percent from the previous month, rebounding from a four-month losing streak in month-on-month terms, the Economic Planning Agency said Monday.
In April, machinery orders fell 1.1 percent from the previous month, following declines of 4.9 percent in March and 0.5 percent in February.
Core machinery orders — which do not include volatile orders for ships and those from power companies — totaled 940.6 billion yen in May.
Machinery order figures are closely monitored and viewed as foreshadowing ups and downs in corporate capital outlays six to nine months ahead.
The agency retained its recent overall assessment that private-sector machinery orders “have kept on demonstrating moves toward recovery,” said Yoshihiko Senoo, chief of the EPA’s Business Statistics Research Division.
Senoo said the agency cannot release a more optimistic assessment because “the average of private-sector order figures in the April-May period was 2.4 percent lower than the corresponding average in the January-March period.”
The average in the April-May period was 920.5 billion yen, down from 943.6 billion yen in the January-March period.
Japan’s overall machinery orders in May, including those from overseas customers and the Japanese government, came to 2.08 trillion yen.
Core private-sector orders in May were up 17.7 percent from a year before, for the sixth consecutive month of gains from year-earlier levels.
The May rebound in private-sector orders stemmed especially from a boost in computer-related orders from nonmanufacturers such as financial institutions, retailers, wholesalers, hospitals and schools, Senoo said.
Among manufacturers, makers of newspaper printing machines and of semiconductor-manufacturing equipment contributed conspicuously to the May rebound, he said.
As for machinery orders from the automobile industry — a key engine of Japan’s manufacturing sector — Senoo said, “Automakers are looking for opportunities to make a rebound, but orders from them may decline again.”
In recent months, the agency has repeated the view that corporate capital outlays would bottom out in the first half of fiscal 2000.
“I hope upcoming statistics will attest to the verity of this view,” Senoo said.