Japan's core machinery orders rose better-than-expected 3.4 percent in January from the previous month, indicating that companies were willing to invest in plant and equipment as economic impact of Thai flooding and European debt crisis in Europe have eased, official data showed Monday.
Orders grew for the first time in two months to JPY 757.8 billion (USD 9.2 billion) following a 7.1 percent decline in December, according to data released by the Cabinet Office.
Core private-sector orders, which exclude volatile demand from electric utilities and for ships, are considered a leading indicator of corporate capital spending in the next three to six months, which accounts for 15 percent of Japan's gross domestic product (GDP).
The expansion was also attributed to stronger demand in the auto sector, which increased orders thanks to government subsidies for fuel-efficient eco-friendly vehicles.
By industry, orders by manufacturers fell 1.8 percent month-on-month in January, while those from non-manufacturers grew 2.3 percent. Overseas demand, an indicator of future Japanese exports, jumped 20.1 percent.
Despite the rise, the Cabinet Office maintained its assessment of machinery orders for the fifth straight month, saying, "The machinery orders have been one step forward, one step back." The Office expects demand to further increase on the back of reconstruction spending for the northeastern region hit by last March's earthquake.