June 8, 2018 / 7:02 AM / a year ago

Japan April machinery orders seen rising, BOJ rates unchanged: Reuters poll

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s machinery orders are set to rebound in April, a Reuters poll found on Friday, offering some solace amid worries over the outlook for the economy after it contracted in the first quarter.

FILE PHOTO: A worker stands on a crane which is parked at a construction site at Keihin industrial zone in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, June 13, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Core machinery orders, a volatile data series regarded as an indicator of capital spending in the coming six to nine months, likely rose 2.8 percent in April from the previous month after a 3.9 percent decline, the poll of 16 analysts found.

From a year ago, core machinery orders, which exclude those for ships and from electric power utilities, were seen rising 3.9 percent in the month after a 2.4 percent fall in March.

“Corporations’ willingness to make capital investments to cope with a labor shortage and to upgrade aging facilities is solid and we expect core machinery orders rose - led by the manufacturing sector,” said Hirotaka Yazawa, economist at Mizuho Research Institute.

Japan’s economy shrank for the first time in nine quarters in January-March on weak consumer spending and slower exports.

Analysts project the economy will return to a moderate growth trend in this quarter but there is a possibility that the economy is peaking just as trade friction with the United States escalates.

The Cabinet Office will release the machinery orders data at 8:50 a.m. Japan time on June 11 (2350 GMT June 10).

The poll also found the Bank of Japan was expected to retain its short-term interest rate at minus 0.1 percent and the 10-year government bond yield target at around zero percent at its two-day policy meeting on June 14-15.

“Consumer prices remain weak and corporations are cautious about raising prices. The timing for the BOJ to start unwinding its stimulus policy is still some way off,” said Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at Shinkin Central Bank Research Institute.

At its April meeting the BOJ ditched the timeframe it had set for hitting its 2 pct inflation target. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda recently said inflation had been weak despite a steady economic expansion, signaling the bank’s readiness to maintain its massive stimulus program.

The BOJ’s corporate goods price index (CGPI), which measures the prices companies charge each other for goods and services, was expected to grow 2.2 percent in May, the poll showed, driven by the rising cost of oil- and coal-related products. The central bank will release the CGPI data at 8:50 a.m. on June 12 Tuesday Japan time.

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Eric Meijer

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