Japan’s industrial production rose 0.2 percent from September to October, confounding predictions it would fall by -0.6 percent and marking the second consecutive month of gains, according to preliminary figures released by the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Friday. Although it beat forecasts, the advance is still smaller than 2.9 percent increase from August to September.
Economic news from the country was not all positive, however. Retail sales fell -1.4 percent in October, more than the -0.5 percent that economists had been predicting, the Financial Times reported.
The Shinzo Abe-led government boosted Japan’s sales tax from 5 percent to 8 percent in April, the first tax hike there in 17 years, CNBC said. The country’s economy has struggled to deal with the tax increase’s impact on demand, and many manufacturers are struggling with their inventories, limiting the scope for increased production, according to MarketWatch.
Good economic data is crucial to Abe at this time, as he seeks to build public support for his economic policies ahead of snap parliamentary elections next month.
“The economy may be starting to turn around,” Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute, told the Wall Street Journal. “But the momentum is very small.”