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Japan factory output likely rebounded in March, while retail sales held firm: Reuters poll

Japan’s factory output likely staged a strong rebound in March from the previous month’s decline, with retail sales probably holding firm on booming inbound tourism and easing worry about weak domestic consumption, a Reuters’ poll of 17 analysts found.

The poll comes ahead of what is expected to be solid data next week on April 30 that may provide fresh evidence the Japanese economy bottomed out at the start of this year, following low growth over the latter half of last year.

“Resumption of factory activity at some car makers would help transport equipment industry, making it the first increase in three months,” Dai-ichi Life Research Institute’s analysts wrote in the weekly poll on condition of anonymity.

“Going forward, downward pressure may persist due to slumping exports for Europe and China, but the trend of pick-up would continue as car output capacity normalises towards May.”

Factory output, a key driver of the economy, probably grew 3.5% in March, swinging from a 0.6% slide in February, according to the poll.

With the labour crunch boosting wages and investment for robots and labour saving technology, the jobless rate likely inched lower to 2.5% in March from 2.6% in the prior month, while job availability in March held steady at 1.26 openings available to each applicant at public job placement offices.

Retail sales growth likely slowed from a 4.6% jump in the previous month to 2.2% year-on-year in March, but the analysts said that was enough to ease concern about domestic consumption for now.

Reflecting surging property prices pushed up by higher raw material costs, housing starts likely fell 7.4% year-on-year in March, following a drop of 8.2% in the previous month.
Source: Reuters

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