Japan's Machinery Orders Plunge In December

Drop of 15 percent was first in three months.

Machinery orders in Japan plunged by 15 percent in December, the first retreat in three months and a possible warning sign that the economic expansion in Japan may be getting tired.

The Japanese Cabinet Office said the total value of orders received by 280 manufacturers operating in Japan in the fourth quarter did manage to increase by 3.8 percent over the previous quarter.

Private-sector machinery orders, excluding volatile orders for ships and those from electric power companies, fell a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in December, and increased by 2 percent in the fourth quarter.

In the Janauary-March period, the total amount of machinery orders was forecasted to decrease by 4 percent, and private-sector orders, excluding volatile ones, were forecasted to rise by 2.2 perecent, the government said.

Last year, the total amount of machinery orders rose by 11.1 percent, while private-sector orders increased by 4 percent.