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Industrial production rose a seasonally adjusted 1.5 percent in January from a month earlier, marking the first monthly increase since August, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday in a preliminary report.

Despite the rise, the ministry described the current condition of industrial production as “moving on a weak note,” maintaining the same evaluation it has used since November.

“The increase of production in January is good, but we consider the basic trend has not changed,” a ministry official said.

The increase brought the index of output at mines and factories to 97.2, against the 1995 base of 100.

By industry, production increased in sectors such as ceramics, clay and stone products, and electrical and general machinery, while output fell in transportation equipment and some other sectors.

Increases in output of personal computers and active-matrix liquid-crystal display devices contributed largely to the growth in production.

The index of industrial shipments gained 2.6 percent to 101.4, posting the first increase in three months, and industrial inventories increased 0.8 percent to 87.8, up for a second month.

Shipments of fabricated metals, electrical machinery and general machinery rose, but shipments of transportation equipment and precision instruments decreased.

METI said it expects industrial production to slide 0.4 percent in February, mainly due to an expected decline in transportation equipment, iron and steel, and fabricated metals.

Industrial production is expected to rise 0.6 percent in March, triggered by an increase in electrical machinery, chemicals and general machinery.

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