Industrial production fell a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent in February from the previous month for the first decline in a year on weakness in the nation’s mainstay sectors, including carmakers and high-tech companies, government data showed Tuesday.
The sharper than expected slowdown was seen as temporary by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which projected that production will recover with growth of 1.4 percent in March.
However, it is expected to fall again by 0.1 percent in April due to the fallout from the massive recalls by Toyota Motor Corp. earlier this year.
In February, the index of output at factories and mines stood at 91.3 against the base of 100 for 2005, METI said in a preliminary report.
The headline reading, which was below the average market forecast of a 0.4 percent fall, marked the first decline since February 2009, when the index slid 9.4 percent amid the global economic downturn.
METI said the February result can largely be seen as a reaction to the rise of 2.7 percent in January, keeping on hold its basic assessment that “developments for a recovery in production remain intact.”
A ministry official said output remains brisk on average but it is necessary to closely watch it in April and beyond.
Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan Securities Japan Co., said the fall in February was in line with the expectations of most market participants and the result is not a source of serious concern.
But he also said it is inevitable that output will gradually slow in the April-June quarter.
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