Business / Economy

Japan's machinery orders nearly flat in November

Kyodo

Core private-sector machinery orders were nearly flat in November compared with the previous month, suggesting firms may be becoming less eager to invest amid risks to the global economy, government data showed Wednesday.

The orders, seen as a leading indicator of capital expenditure, fell 0.02 percent following a 7.6 percent rise in October, according to the Cabinet Office.

Capital expenditure has been a key driver of Japan’s economy in recent years, helping it stay on track to likely log its longest expansion phase since the end of World War II.

But heightened trade tensions between the United States and China as well as the U.K.’s tumultuous attempt to exit from the European Union have raised concerns over a slowdown in global growth, eating into firms’ appetite to spend.

Machinery orders, excluding those for ships and from power companies because of their volatility, “aren’t on the upward trend that they once were,” a Cabinet Office official told a news briefing. The orders totaled ¥863.1 billion ($7.9 billion).

Among that total, orders from the manufacturing sector fell 6.4 percent to ¥395.7 billion amid falling demand from the nonferrous metals industry.

From the nonmanufacturing sector, orders excluding those for ships and power companies rose 2.5 percent to ¥465 billion with an uptick in orders from the transportation and agriculture industries.

Orders from the domestic public sector plunged 26.8 percent to ¥264.9 billion, while those from abroad soared 18.5 percent to ¥1.26 trillion.