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Japan: Machinery orders surprise on the upside in February

April 11, 2012

Machinery orders, a leading indicator of capital spending over a three to six month period, continued to improve in February, thereby signalling a sustained recovery in the months ahead. In February, core machinery orders (private sector, excluding volatile orders) expanded a seasonally adjusted 4.8% over the previous month, which followed the 3.4% rise recorded in January. Moreover, the print contrasted market expectations, which had orders declining 0.8%. The acceleration was the result of a strong rebound in manufacturing orders, while non-manufacturing orders expanded at the same pace than in the previous month. However, machinery orders from overseas, which determine future exports, declined 18.3% in February, contrasting the robust 20.1% rise seen in January. Compared to the same month last year, core machinery orders grew 8.9% in February, which was above both the 5.7% rise seen in the previous month and the 3.0% increase expected by market analysts. Nevertheless, the trend deteriorated in February, with annual average growth falling from 7.8% in January to 7.6% in February. Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office upgraded its assessment on machinery orders for the first time since June 2011, envisaging


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