Japan November factory output seen rising for sixth month, outlook dims: Reuters poll

FILE PHOTO:  Worker cycles in a factory at the Keihin industrial zone in Kawasaki
FILE PHOTO: A worker cycles in a factory at the Keihin industrial zone in Kawasaki, Japan February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

December 25, 2020

By Tetsushi Kajimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s industrial output likely grew for a sixth straight month in November in a sign of gradual recovery in factory activity, although a recent resurgence in COVID-19 infections clouds the outlook, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

The trade ministry data due at 8:50 a.m. on Monday (2350 GMT Sunday) is likely to show factory output rose 1.2% in November from the previous month, slowing from a 3.9% gain in October, a Reuters poll of 17 economists showed.

Japan’s factory output has been recovering from a pandemic-related downturn earlier this year, bolstered by global demand for automobiles and IT-related goods as well as capital goods, but some analysts said the outlook was uncertain.

Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute said new virus infections in Europe and America have stalled economic activity there.

U.S. car sales are slowing and the Chinese economy’s recovery to its pre-pandemic growth path has run its course, which will put a lid on Japan’s factory output, he said.

“As such, Japan’s factory activity will seesaw in December and January,” he added.

The world’s third-largest economy has rebounded from the second quarter’s COVID-induced deep slump, lifted by rising exports and a pick-up in private-sector consumption.

However, analysts worry that a recent resurgence in coronavirus infections in Japan and elsewhere may keep any recovery modest.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Edmund Klamann)