Barefoot Investor: Japan December Industrial Output Rises Less-Than-Forecast 2.5%

Japan’s industrial production rose less than economists forecast, suggesting that a recovery in the nation’s manufacturing sector is lagging a weakening yen.

Output rose 2.5 percent from November, when it declined 1.4 percent, the Trade Ministry said in Tokyo today. The median estimate of 25 economists was for a 4.1 percent gain. Production fell 7.8 percent from the previous year.

The yen has weakened more than 12 percent against the dollar in the past three months, the most among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg. It was at 91.06 per dollar as of 8:52 a.m. in Tokyo. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) has gained more than 16 percent since the beginning of December.

Japan’s three largest automakers -- Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. -- all reported falling domestic production in December from the previous month.

Manufacturing in China, Japan’s biggest export market, is expanding at the fastest rate in two years, bolstering prospects that economic growth there will accelerate for a second straight quarter.

Weaker Yen

A weaker yen makes products relatively cheaper in export markets and boosts overseas earnings for Japanese companies such as Toyota and Canon Inc. (7751) when repatriated.

Twelve analysts covering Toyota, Japan’s biggest car manufacturer, have raised their earnings estimates for the next fiscal year.
The nation’s gross domestic product shrank at an annualized 3.5 percent pace in the third quarter of last year, the second straight contraction and meeting the textbook definition of a recession.


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