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--BOJ Officials Still Focused On Q/Q Data For Underlying Trend
--Growing BOJ Concerns Over Softening Global Economy
By Hiroshi Inoue
TOKYO (MNI) - Despite weak November industrial production data, Bank of
Japan officials maintain the view that production is on a moderate rising trend,
although they are concerned over the outlook, as demand may be hit by slowing
overseas markets, MNI understands.
BOJ officials judge that November's drop in production was a reaction to
October's rise and they continue to be focused on the quarter-on-quarter move
in the fourth quarter to examine the underlying trend.
Industrial production fell 1.1% on month in November, coming in stronger
than the MNI median economist forecast of -1.9%, but below the 2.9% gain seen in
October, data released Friday by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Increased production of machinery and chemicals excluding medicines was
offset by falls in general-purpose and business oriented machinery.
Production of general-purposed and business machines, which are used for
capital investment at home and abroad, fell 11.0% on month in November following
a 7.1% gain in October.
Production of electronic parts and devices fell 1.7% on month in November
after +8.7% in October.
Shipments of capital goods excluding transport equipment, a key capex
indicator, that BOJ economists are focused, dropped 4.1% on month in November
for the first drop after +5.4% in October.
In a statement, METI maintained its outlook from last month, saying that
"production is picking up moderately."
--Q4 SEEN RISING
Based on METI's forecast, factory output is seen rising 2.2% on month in
December and then fall 0.8% in January. Adjusting the upward bias in output
plans, METI forecast production would drop 0.7% on month in December.
If the output fell 0.7%, as expected, industrial production is expected to
rise 1.7% in the fourth quarter, the first quarterly rise in two quarters
following a fall of 1.3% in the third quarter.
BOJ economists expected Q4 production to pick up, boosted by the recovery
following the temporary drop caused by the string of natural disasters across
Japan in the third quarter.
Those officials are focused on how global demand, mainly in China, evolves
in the coming months and how Japan's production has been adversely affected by
overall global demand.
Some BOJ board members voiced concern over the outlook for the global
economy at the December 19-20 policy-setting meeting, the summary of opinions
expressed at the meeting released Friday showed.
BOJ officials had expected November production data to be a touch weaker
after November export data disappointed -- also in reaction to strong October
Those officials expect the impact of global trade friction to be seen in or
after January 2019 and they now have the added concerned that volatile financial
markets will worsen households' and firms' sentiment, impeding their spending.
The BOJ's latest Tankan corporate sentiment survey showed executives are
weighed down by increasing uncertainties over the global economy. The BOJ board
will examine how corporate sentiment and overall business flow has evolved via
feedback from its quarterly branch managers' meeting scheduled on Jan. 10, 2019.
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