TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese machinery orders, an indicator of how much the country's companies are spending, fell 3.2 percent in January from a month earlier, new data showed Wednesday, beating analysts that expected a sharper fall.
The Cabinet Office said core private sector machinery orders, which excludes orders from electric power firms and shipbuilders due to their volatility, fell for the fourth straight month to 718.3 billion yen ($7.33 billion).
The result was better than the 5.3 percent decline predicted in a Kyodo News survey of economists, but was steeper than the 1.7 percent fall in December.
Orders from non-manufacturers, which include construction and power generation, rose 13.5 percent, while overseas orders plunged 49 percent after rising 27.6 percent a month earlier. Machinery orders from manufacturers plunged 27.4 percent.
Total private sector machinery orders, including utilities and shipbuilders, dropped 7.5 percent.
The Cabinet Office projects a 3.5 percent increase in orders for the January-March quarter compared to the previous quarter.