Japan's Industrial Output Rises In March

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's industrial output in March rose a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent from the previous month, the first growth in six months, revised government data showed Tuesday, confirming a preliminary report.

The result added to signs that Japan's production slump amid the global economic downturn may have hit bottom as companies have seen progress in their inventory reduction.

The index of output at mines and factories stood at 70.6, against the base of 100 for 2005, said the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The output of the electronic parts and devices industry led the advance, gaining 10.4 percent with the robustness seen in such products as semiconductor integrated circuits and capacitors for use in computers.

The production of general machines, including parts for turbines as well as chip-making devices, increased 5.4 percent, followed by vehicle output that saw a 3.1 percent rise.

The index of shipments rose 1.5 percent to 73.1, slightly upgraded from a 1.4 percent hike in the preliminary report released April 30.

That of inventory fell 3.6 percent to 99.8, compared with an earlier announced 3.3 percent decline. The relatively faster inventory decline was interpreted as prompting companies to increase production.

For fiscal 2008 ended in March, the ministry said the output index declined 12.7 percent from the previous year to 94.4, as reported in April. The reading, marking the first fall in seven years, was the weakest under the current base year.

The shipment index fell 12.6 percent during the 12 months to 95.0, unchanged from the preliminary report. Meanwhile, the inventory index was down 5.2 percent to 95.3, representing a revision from a preliminary 4.9 percent loss.

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