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Japan factory output slumps; jobless rate rises to 2.9%

Japan’s industrial output fell for a fourth straight month in May to the lowest level since the global financial crisis, highlighting the widespread impact of the coronavirus on factory and overall business and consumer activity.
The world’s third-largest economy is bracing for its worst postwar recession, hurt by coronavirus lockdown measures at home and overseas that have upended supply chains, kept businesses shut and depressed consumer spending.
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry data out on Tuesday showed that factory output fell 8.4% month-on-month in May to 79.1, a level not seen since March 2009 when the financial crisis sapped global demand.
The slump followed a 9.8% decline in the previous month, and was much bigger than the median market forecast of a 5.6% drop in a Reuters poll of economists.
Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) expect output to rise 5.7% in June and 9.2% in July, the data showed.
The government left its assessment of industrial production unchanged to say it was “lowering sharply”, the bleakest official view since the global financial crisis in late 2008.
Japan’s economy shrank an annualised 2.2% in January-March, slipping into recession for the first time in 4-1/2 years, and analysts expect the health crisis to have driven a deeper slump in the current quarter.
Meanwhile, the nation's jobless rate rose and the availability of jobs fell in Ma.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 2.9% in May, up from 2.6% in April, figures from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed. The median forecast was 2.8%.
The jobs-to-applicants ratio fell to 1.20 in May from 1.32 in April, marking the lowest reading since July 2015, labour ministry data showed.


© Thomson Reuters 2020.
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