Japan revises down Nov. factory output


TOKYO–Japan’s factory output in November was weaker than first reported with industrial production turning down 0.1 percent, according to revised data Monday, in the latest sign of slowing growth. The reading — which came after preliminary data had shown a 0.1 percent rise in output on-month — also marked the first contraction in three months. However, figures last week showed November machinery orders — a key measure of capital spending — jumped 9.3 percent from October to a five-year high, suggesting a pick-up in corporate investment. The figures are a key yardstick for the success of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy blitz, dubbed “Abenomics,” aimed at stoking growth in Japan’s long-lumbering economy. Despite Abe’s much-lauded start since sweeping national elections just over a year ago, analysts have been warning that Tokyo’s bold pro-growth program — a mix of big government spending and central bank monetary easing — is not enough on its own without promised economic reforms. Bank of Japan policymakers will be poring over the latest figures as they hold a two-day meeting that ends Wednesday, with December trade and inflation figures due earlier that day.

The BoJ is expected to hold steady on new monetary easing measures until it can gauge the effect of an April sales tax rise, which critics have warned could derail a recovery in the world’s third-largest economy. Japan’s economic growth slowed to 0.3 percent in the third-quarter of 2013, well down from 0.9 percent growth in the previous three months. The once-anaemic economy had been outpacing other G7 nations in the first half of the year as Abe’s policy drive helped push down the yen, giving a boost to exporters and sparking a stock market rally.