May 25, 2018 / 6:42 AM / 7 months ago

Japan's factory output seen rising for third straight month in April - Reuters poll

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s industrial production was expected to rise for a third straight month in April thanks to brisk export demand, a Reuters poll found on Friday, a positive sign after the economy contracted in the first quarter.

Factory output was expected to have risen by 1.2 percent in April from the previous month, the poll of 17 economists showed, following gains of 1.4 percent in March and 2.0 percent in February.

“We expect industrial production grew in April led by transport equipment and general-purpose, production and business-oriented machinery on the back of solid exports,” said Yoshimasa Maruyama, chief market economist at SMBC Nikko Securities said.

“Production for January-March fell for the first time in eight quarters, which was merely a soft patch, and it is likely to return to growth in April-June. Averaging them out, the rising trend appears to be sustained.”

Japan’s exports accelerated in April on increased shipments of cars and machines used to make semiconductors and they are seen likely to continue growing.

The trade ministry will issue the factory output data at 8:50 a.m. on Thursday May 31, Japan time (2350 GMT May 30).

Workforce data is due on Tuesday. Economists expect the unemployment rate to be steady at 2.5 percent in April for a third straight month after hitting a 25-year low of 2.4 percent in January.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio was seen likely to have reached 1.60 in April from 1.59 in March. It would be the highest such reading since 1.64 in January 1974.

“A labour shortage helps improve wages and working conditions, and the number of female workers continued increasing. The jobless rate likely stayed at a low level,” said Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at the Shinkin Central Bank Research Institute.

The poll also found retail sales were expected to rise 1.0 percent in April from a year earlier, up for a sixth straight month, thanks to strong sales of seasonal items such as spring clothes.

The government will publish the jobs data at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday May 29 Japan time (2330 GMT on May 28) and retail sales figures at 8:50 a.m. on Wednesday May 30(2350 GMT on May 29).

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Eric Meijer

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