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Japan factory output turns up in February

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Japan's factory output picked up in February while the jobless rate stayed low, official data showed Friday as the world's third largest economy continues a solid expansion.

[TOKYO] Japan's factory output picked up in February while the jobless rate stayed low, official data showed Friday as the world's third largest economy continues a solid expansion.

Factory output rose 4.1 per cent month-on-month, according to industry ministry data, falling short of market expectations of a five-per cent rise but up from the 6.8 per cent plunge in January.

"It has not changed that the Japanese economy continues to recover as the global economy recovers gradually," said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

Mr Minami added that new US metal tariffs were not expected to badly affect the Japanese economy.

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"Japanese steel and aluminium products will be spared severe damage as they are not for general purposes but speciality products that user companies are quite dependent on," he told AFP.

Separate government data showed the labour market stayed tight.

The jobless rate stood at 2.5 per cent in February against 2.4 per cent in January, hovering near the lowest level in 25 years.

The ratio of job offers to job hunters logged its first fall in more than five years but was still high at 1.58 in February against 1.59 in January, meaning there were 158 job offers to every 100 job seekers.

The latest data comes as Japan has notched up the longest period of GDP expansion since the "bubble" boom days of the late 1980s.

It also came before the central Bank of Japan's closely watched "tankan" quarterly business confidence survey on Monday.

Confidence among Japan's biggest manufacturers is expected to stay almost flat in the March survey after sentiment was hurt by the yen's appreciation and stock market drops in February.

AFP

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