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Industrial output rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in March compared with last month, climbing for the first time in two months on firm production of automobiles for North America and Asia, the government said Friday.

The index of output at factories and mines stood at 94.0 against the base of 100 for 2005, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in the preliminary report.

The headline reading compares with an average market forecast of a 0.8 percent rise as compiled in a Kyodo survey.

The index of industrial shipments gained 1.6 percent to 96.3, the first rise in two months, while the industrial inventory index fell 1.6 percent to 94.0 for the first drop in three months.

The ministry has left its basic assessment unchanged since April last year, saying, “Industrial production continues to show an upward movement.”

Production by electrical machinery makers climbed 6.1 percent on an increase in lithium-ion battery output for computers and mobile phones.

Transport equipment makers, including automakers, expanded output 1.8 percent. A ministry official said there was no clear sign that the recent massive car recalls by Toyota Motor Corp. have had any impact on production data.

Kenji Tanaka, an economist at the Development Bank of Japan said, “Exports of automobiles to the United States are showing a month-to-month rise and it appears that a large impact on domestic production has been avoided.”

Output at general machinery makers fell 4.0 percent because of a decrease in semiconductor manufacturing equipment production.

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