Japanese industrial output cratered in February, recording the largest monthly contraction since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Japanese economy in March 2011.
According to the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), factory output fell by 6.2% after seasonal adjustments, missing market expectations for a slightly smaller decline of 6.0%.
The decrease followed a 3.7% gain in January, having fallen in November and December last year.
Though an ugly headline print, the scale of the decline was likely exacerbated by one-off factors.
Reuters reports that the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday, along with a forced factory shut down by automotive giant Toyota, likely contributed the sharp decline.
METI noted that output of transport equipment and electronic parts and devices were the largest contributors to the sharp decline in February.
It also stuck to its assessment of industrial output, saying that it is “seesawing”.
Looking ahead, manufacturers suggested output would likely grow by 3.9% in March before expanding by 5.3% in April, fitting with the notion that the February weakness was due to temporary factors.
Still, even if that eventuates, with demand weak both at home and abroad, whether the recovery can be sustained beyond that remains debatable.
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