Employees wearing protective face masks and face guards work on the automobile assembly line as the maker ramps up car production with new security and health measures as a step to resume full operations, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Kawasaki factory of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp., owned by Germany-based Daimler AG, in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, Japan May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files
July 30, 2021
By Kaori Kaneko and Leika Kihara
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s factory output rebounded in June and job availability rose to the highest level in nearly a year, data showed, a sign robust overseas demand was offsetting the drag to consumption from the pandemic.
But retail sales were largely flat in June from a year earlier, suggesting any recovery in the world’s third-largest economy would be slower than other advanced nations.
The mixed batch of data comes as Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games amid a rise in coronavirus infections that forced the capital impose state of emergency curbs.
The renewed restrictions have dashed policymakers’ hopes of a strong rebound in July-September growth after an expected weak economic performance in the previous quarter.
Industrial output increased 6.2% in June from the previous month after a sharp 6.5% drop in May, data showed on Friday, compared with a median market forecast for a 5.0% gain.
Separate data showed Japan’s jobs-to-applicants ratio rose to 1.13 from 1.09 in May, exceeding market estimates for a 1.10 reading. The jobless rate fell to 2.9% from 3.0% in May.
Underscoring the weakness in consumption, retail sales were up just 0.1% in June from a year earlier, data showed, compared with a median market forecast for a 0.2% gain.
Japan’s economy shrank an annualised 3.9% in January-March and likely barely grew in the second quarter, as the pandemic took a toll on service spending.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Leika Kihara; Additional reporting by Kentaro Sugiyama and Takaya Yamaguchi; Editing by Sam Holmes)