Japan’s factory output rose for the fourth straight month last month as hopeful manufacturers boosted production to meet an uptick in global demand from depressed levels.
Industrial production in the world’s second-biggest economy climbed 2.4 percent from the previous month and “continues to show an upward movement,” the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a monthly report.
For the second quarter, factory output surged 8.3 percent — the biggest quarterly increase in more than five decades — though production was nearly one-quarter lower than a year earlier, reflecting the severity of the slump in previous months.
The figures suggest the recession is loosening its hold on Japanese manufacturers like Toyota and Sony, which rely heavily on consumers overseas to buy their cars and gadgets.
The unprecedented drop in world demand triggered by last year’s global financial crisis dragged the country into its steepest economic downturn since World War II.
“The Japanese industrial production release highlights the dilemma that seems to be facing a lot of investors, which is that the growth rate is strong but the level of activity is still very depressed,” said Richard Jerram, chief economist at Macquarie Securities in Tokyo.
“Emerging signs of demand improvement should offer reassurance,” Jerram said.
But economists worry that the recovery is not trickling down to workers and families.
Retail sales fell for the 10th consecutive month last month, while unemployment is expected to have risen again when the government releases its report today.