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Japan's economic data show signs of recovery

business Updated: May 29, 2009 14:05 IST

DPA
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Japan's industrial output rose at the fastest rate for almost 60 years in April, but the overall economic picture was more mixed, with the jobless rate for the month the worst in five years, government reports said.

Earlier in the week, the Japanese government upgraded its overall monthly assessment of its economy, saying that the pace of slowdown had become moderate with improvements in industrial production and exports.

But the government also warned that deteriorating labour conditions could deal a blow to recovery hopes.

The nation's April industrial output rose 5.2 per cent from the previous month, the best showing in over five decades, the report released Friday said.

The data showed signs of recovery in domestic and overseas demand for manufactured goods such as cars and semiconductors, the government's preliminary report showed.

With the April figures, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry upgraded its assessment of industrial production for the first time in 20 months.

The ministry expected output to increase by 8.8 per cent in May and 2.7 per cent in June.

Despite the improved production data and hopes of economic recovery, Japan's jobless rate hit the highest in five years at 5 percent in April.

In the reported month, 3.46 million people were without jobs, up 25.8 per cent from April last year, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said in a preliminary report.

There were only 46 jobs available for every 100 jobseekers, making the ratio the worst since June 1999.

Although analysts expected further worsening of the nation's job market, which could push the unemployment rate up to 5.5 percent near the end of the year, they said the number of new job offers in April indicated the deterioration would soon ease.

As an important indicator of employment-rate prospects, the number of new job offers in April dipped 0.9 percent, but the declining rate is easing compared to the past three months, analysts said.

The government also released the nation's core consumer price index (CPI) Friday, which showed a 0.1 percent fall in April, compared to a year before.

The core nationwide CPI, which excludes fresh food prices, fell in March for the first time in a year and a half, and remained in deflationary territory in April, reflecting falling petrol prices and weakening demand amid the global economic slump.

While the price index dipped, households spent less in April, down by 1.3 percent to 306,340 yen ($3,175) from the same month a year before.

The average monthly income of salaried households was up 1 percent to 473,779 yen.

Household spending figures are a key indicator of private consumption, which accounts for more than half of Japanese gross domestic product (GDP).