RTTNews - Friday saw a number of key statistical data releases from Asian economies, especially from Japan. Japan's unemployment rate increased to a five year high in April. But while the job picture worsened, data on factory output signaled a possible easing of the nation's recession. Inflation also eased modestly.

The government reported that national unemployment hit 5% in April, the highest since 2003. The rate marked an increase of 0.2% from March, and was in line with the forecasts of most economists.

In a separate report, the Ministry said Japan household spending declined 1.3% in April, the 14th consecutive monthly fall, the longest extended decline since record keeping began.

In another report, the government said Japan's core consumer price index declined 0.1% in April, and overall CPI likewise fell 0.1%, both declines were compared to one year earlier.

The government's report on factory output, however, showed signs that the recession could be easing. Factory output was up 5.2% compared to the month before, the second straight monthly gain after a rise of 1.6% in March.

Japan's automobile production dropped 47.1% year-on-year in April to 485,405 units, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said. This is the seventh consecutive month of fall.

According to a report released by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Japanese housing starts declined 32.4% in April on a yearly basis, following a 20.7% fall seen in March. Economists were expecting only a 22% decrease in housing starts.

In other news, South Korea's business survey index for manufacturers rose to 76 in June from 71 in May, the Bank of Korea said. Elsewhere, the country's National Statistical Office said industrial output fell 8.2% year-on-year in April compared to a 10.5% drop in March.

India's gross domestic product grew 5.8% for the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2009, government data showed.

Malaysia's leading index, a measure of economic performance in the next few months, rose 0.5% month-on-month in March to 159 points, the Department of Statistics said.

The Statistics and Census Service of Macau said in a report that the gross domestic product in real terms declined 12.9% year-on-year in the first quarter, compared with a 7.6% drop in the previous quarter.

In a separate report, the agency said Macau's export value fell 48.9% year-on-year in April to MOP692 million, reflecting a 70.8% drop in domestic exports and a 14% decline in re-exports.

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