Japan machinery orders seen down

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    TOKYO- Japan’s core machinery orders likely dropped in January from December’s level, a Reuters poll found, predicting the first monthly decline in four months as renewed emergency curbs to slow the spread of COVID-19 hurt business investment.

    Regarded as an indicator of capital spending for the next six to nine months, core machinery orders likely fell 5.5 percent in January from December, the poll of 19 economists found.

    Core orders, which excludes orders from shipbuilders and electric utilities, were forecast to have slipped 0.2 percent in January from the same month a year ago.

    “Orders from manufacturers remained solid thanks to external demand recovery,” said Yusuke Shimoda, senior economist at Japan Research Institute.

    “But non-manufacturers turned cautious as renewed curbs to contain the pandemic could damage the economy.”

    The economy is widely viewed to be shrinking in the current quarter as the anti-virus restrictions have hurt consumer spending and firms, especially in the service sector.

    Trade data is set to be released on Wednesday.