Industrial output in Japan plummeted by 9.4 percent in February compared to the previous month, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Monday, falling for the fifth straight month and marking the third-largest fall on record.

That was slightly worse than forecasts that called for a decline of 9.0 percent following the 10.2 percent decline in January.

On an annual basis, industrial output dropped 38.4 percent versus forecasts of a 38.1 percent decline after the 31.0 percent retreat in the previous month.

The inventory to shipments ratio was up 4.6 percent on month, while inventories eased 4.2 percent and shipments were down 6.8 percent.

The fall in output was concentrated on automobiles, chip making equipment and electric machinery as exports took a beating because of the global economic slowdown. Data last week showed that exports had plummeted by a record 49.4 percent in February.

Japanese companies' forecast for industrial output is up 2.9 percent in March and up 3.1 percent in April.

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