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Economy in Brief

Japan Data Show Improvement but Indicators Still Below a Year Ago
by Louise Curley January 18, 2010

A lot of data from Japan were released today: Industrial Production, Operating Rates, Retail and Wholesale Trade, Cash Earnings and Input and Output prices. All the data, except for the input and output prices which are for December, are for November,

Input prices in the manufacturing industry have risen and fallen faster than output prices as shown in the first chart. The swings in the price of oil probably account for much of the greater volatility in input prices than in output prices. While other factors influence profits, in the manufacturing industry, the performance of input and output prices has tended to depress profits.

One of the other factors influencing profits is employment cost and here the results for manufacturing are positive. Although the year to year changes in monthly cash wages have recovered from the big decline of more than 13% in June they were still 4.2% below the year ago figure in November, as shown in the second chart

Both industrial production and operating rates continue to improve from the big year over year decline reached in February of this year, as can be seen in the third chart. Industrial production, which had declined 37% from February 2008 to February 2009, was 5.5% below the year ago figure in November. Comparable figures for operating rates are 44% and 4.1%.

JAPAN  (Y/Y% Changes) Dec 09 Nov 09 Oct 09 Sep 09 Aug 09 July 09 June 09 May 09 Apr 09 Mar 09 Feb 09
Input Prices (Manufacturing) -3.50 -8.15 -13.40 -17.30 -19.69 -19.30 -17.33 -15.10 -13.68 -7.93 -8.85
Output Prices (Manufacturing) -3.68 -5.72 -8.18 -10.38 -11.30 -11.33 -9.21 -7.82 -6.03 -4.54 -8.81
Cash Earnings (Manufacturing)   -4.17 -2.61 -2.79 -4.37 -8.66 -13.27 -5.34 -5.30 -5.88 -5.42
Industrial Production (Manufacturing)                  -5.48 -13.99 -17.28 -18.94 -22.66 -24.63 -27.72 -30.71 -35.02 -36.88
Operating Rates  (Manufacturing)   -4.07 -16.52 -20.04 -20.31 -24.79 -26.93 -32.46 -35.46 -41.15 -44.31
Wholesale Trade   -18.75 -24.22 -27.14 -28.04 -29.82 -28.67 -30.35 -27.78 -28.22 -25.74
Retail Trade   -1.10 -0.98 -1.35 -1.80 -2.40 -2.91 -2.74 -2.81 -3.80 -5.73
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