Japan's Machinery Orders Down 1.7%

December number mild compared to a 16.2% plunge in November

Japan's core machinery orders, a key gauge of corporate capital spending, fell 1.7% in December from the previous month, the government said on Feb. 8.

The drop in core private-sector machinery orders, which exclude particularly volatile demand from power companies and for ships, came after a 16.2% plunge in November.

Core machinery orders placed by manufacturers rose 7% in December after a 33.2% plunge in November, but orders by the non-manufacturing sector dropped 8.3% after a gain of 0.5% the previous month.

On Feb. 8, Japan's economy minister Kaoru Yosano said the government may consider offering an extra economic stimulus package if the economy deteriorates further. Prime Minister Taro Aso in December announced a stimulus package worth 23 trillion yen (US$250 billion), in addition to a 26.9 trillion yen package unveiled in October.

Aso has pledged that Japan will be the first developed country to move out of recession, but Yosano said late last month it was impossible to say when Asia's biggest economy would bottom out.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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