Japan’s factories boost output for third month in August

TOKYO  – Japan’s factories ramped up output for a third straight month in August, as the manufacturing sector showed resilience in the face of heightened fears about high material cost and a global economic slowdown.

Policymakers in the world’s third-largest economy are worried about recession risks in the United States and other major trading partners, which would make Japan increasingly reliant on domestic consumption for growth.

Separate figures showed retail sales rose sharply to expand for a sixth straight month in August, while the latest jobs data pointed to tightening labour market conditions.

Factory output gained a seasonally adjusted 2.7 percent in August from a month earlier, official data showed on Friday, extending rises in the prior two months.

The increase, which was much stronger than a median market forecast for a 0.2 percent gain expected by economists in a Reuters poll, got a lift from firmer output of production machinery and iron, steel and non-ferrous metals.

That helped offset a 6.3-percent slump in electronic parts and devices output and a decline in motor vehicle production, which swung into contraction after posting double-digit gains in June and July.

That decline contrasted with a Thursday report by world’s top automaker by sales Toyota Motor Corp, which said its global vehicle production grew at a record pace for the month of August, surging 44.3 percent in the month from a year earlier.

Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) expected output to rise another 2.9 percent in September and 3.2 percent in October.

Separate data showed retail sales grew more than expected, rising 4.1 percent in August from a year earlier, compared with a median forecast for a 2.8 percent gain in a Reuters poll.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 2.5 percent in August, compared to the previous month’s 2.6 percent, while the availability of jobs stood at 1.32, marking its highest since March 2020.