The rate of improvement in operating conditions at Japanese goods producers weakened in June. Production growth slowed to a fractional pace, while new orders returned to contraction territory. In contrast, new export orders increased at the fastest pace since December 2013, with reports of a favourable exchange rate helping to improve price competitiveness. Meanwhile, input prices increased, albeit at a historically muted pace, while charges rose for the second straight month.
At 50.1 in June, down from 50.9 in May, the headline PMI signalled a general slowdown of improvements in operating conditions at Japanese manufacturers. Furthermore, the latest reading was lower than the long-run series average. Concurrently, production growth at Japanese goods producers slowed to marginal pace in June and was the weakest this year so far (with the exception of April where a contraction was recorded).
Reports of a fall in new orders were commonly cited as the main factor behind lower output growth. According to anecdotal evidence, June’s marginal decline in incoming new work was due to a lack of capital investments and challenging economic conditions. As a result of weaker production requirements and subdued demand conditions, buying activity was scaled back in June. However, the rate of decline was marginal.
Employment, on the other hand, remained in modest growth territory for the third month running. Both consumer and investment goods producers noted increases in staff levels.
Meanwhile, new export orders rose at the quickest pace in one-and-a-half years in June. Several survey respondents mentioned a favourable exchange rate helping to improve price competitiveness, while others commented on greater sales volumes with China and Europe. In fact, all three monitored sectors signalled marked expansions in foreign demand.
On the price front, purchasing costs rose, amid reports of the deprecation of the yen against the dollar driving up raw material costs. However, the rate of increase was the second weakest in the 30- month period of inflation. Meanwhile, charges rose at the fastest rate since January, as companies tried to pass on higher cost burdens on to clients.