Japan industrial production up 2.5 percent in December


TOKYO — Japan’s industrial production picked up pace in December from the month before, in a sign the world’s third-largest economy may be stabilizing thanks to stronger global demand and government spending.

Increased output of large passenger cars and vehicle components and machinery for making semiconductors were the main factors helping to drive the improvement in manufacturing, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Thursday. It said industrial output rose a seasonally adjusted 2.5 percent from November.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is already claiming progress in breaking the deflationary slump that has weighed on Japan’s growth for years. Share prices are approaching three-year highs and many companies have reported improved profits thanks to a weakening of the Japanese yen against other major currencies.

Still the indicators are mixed. Japan’s unemployment ticked up 0.1 percent from the month before to 4.2 percent in December, the government said Friday.

The ratio of jobs available rose to 82 jobs per 100 applicants from 80 in November, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said.

Meanwhile, average household spending, which accounts for about 60 percent of Japan’s economic activity, fell 0.7 percent in December from a year earlier, in price-adjusted terms.

Figures released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on Thursday, however, showed average monthly wages, including overtime and bonuses falling to 314,236 yen (US$3,453), the lowest level since such data became available in 1990.