Economy News

Japan Jan factory output likely fell for 2nd month on hit from Omicron – Reuters poll

By Kantaro Komiya

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s industrial output likely fell for a second month in January as the fast spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant disrupted car production, a Reuters poll showed.

While the coronavirus outbreak is on a downtrend, concerns loom for a current-quarter contraction as the Ukraine-Russia crisis fuels fresh uncertainties for the economy reliant on imported energy, raw materials and manufacturing parts.

Industrial production likely declined 0.7% in January from the previous month, the median forecast in the poll of 18 economists showed, after a 1.0% fall in December.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 Omicron variant since the start of the year forced output cuts to carmakers, which had already suffered from chip and parts shortage,” Shumpei Fujita, an economist at Mitsubishi UFJ (NYSE:MUFG) Research and Consulting, wrote in a note.

Major automakers including Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM) Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd have reduced production in their Japanese plants due to Omicron-related disruptions, such as infected workers and component supply bottlenecks.

Japan’s new COVID-19 infections peaked in early February, but deaths are still rising.

Meanwhile, retail sales were seen rising 1.4% in January from a year earlier, following a revised 1.2% growth in December, according to the poll.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will release both industrial production and retail sales data on Feb. 28 at 8:50 a.m. (Feb. 27 at 2350 GMT).

Japan’s unemployment rate and jobs-to-applicants ratio likely stayed flat in January from the prior month at 2.7% and 1.16, respectively, the poll also showed. Job figures are due on Mar. 4 at 8:30 a.m. (Mar. 3 at 2330 GMT).

Source: Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker cycles near a factory at the Keihin industrial zone in Kawasaki, Japan February 28, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

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