Core private-sector machinery orders dropped 4.4% in September from the previous month, the first decrease in three months as the pace of recovery in auto and other sectors slowed, government data showed Thursday.
The orders, which exclude those for ships and from electricity utilities due to their volatility, totaled ¥719.30 billion, according to the Cabinet Office. Machinery orders are seen as a leading indicator of capital spending.
Following 6.3% and 0.2% rises in July and August, respectively, core orders have yet to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, which had been consistently over ¥800 billion.
The office maintained its assessment that machinery orders were "bottoming out."
"Sectors that had been driving the overall recovery, such as the auto-related industry and general-purpose machinery firms, did not grow so much in September," a government official told reporters.
Orders from manufacturers rose 2.0% to ¥317.40 billion following a 0.6% decline in August, helped by those from food- and beverage-makers and chemical companies.
Orders from nonmanufacturers grew 3.2% to ¥425.29 billion, after falling 6.9% in the previous month. Sectors such as telecommunications and financial and insurance services contributed to the increase.
Total orders were down 4.4% to ¥2.10 trillion, the first drop in three months.
Orders from overseas, seen as an indicator of future exports, sagged 16.7% to ¥765.55 billion, after they saw a 49.6% spike in the previous month.
Looking ahead, the Cabinet Office projected a 1.9% decline in core orders in the October to December quarter from the previous three months, for what would be a sixth straight quarterly decrease.
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