• Kyodo

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Japan’s industrial production was flat in November after expanding over the previous five months, government data showed Monday, with officials warning of downside risks going forward due to the recent resurgence of COVID-19 infections around the world.

But the industry ministry retained its existing assessment of the data, saying output at factories and mines “is picking up.”

It also noted that the halt of expansion partly reflects temporary factors, such as some automakers slowing production to improve existing models.

The seasonally adjusted index of industrial output stayed at 95.2, matching the previous month, against the base of 100 for 2015, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry wrote in a preliminary report. The result followed an upwardly revised 4.0% increase in October.

Production by the auto sector, which had led overall increases in earlier months, fell 4.7% due largely to weak sales in North America and Australia, the ministry said.

Makers of production machinery saw a 6.5% rise on strong overseas demand for devices to produce semiconductors, while those of machinery for more general purposes logged a 4.8% increase due to robust demand for steam turbines for use in power plants.

Manufacturers polled by the ministry said they expected production to fall 1.1% in December, but they also projected a rebound of 7.1% in January.

The ministry pointed to uncertainty over the impact of the pandemic, noting the recent spread of a potentially more infectious novel coronavirus variant mainly in Europe. Japan has also confirmed some cases of people infected with the virus mutation.

“We need to closely monitor the downside risks to the world economy as the recent resurgence of coronavirus infections affects socioeconomic activities,” a ministry official said.

The index of industrial shipments in November fell 0.9% to 94.0 and that of inventories was down 1.1% to 94.6.

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