Japanese industrial output slumped 2.3% on month in February after rising 3.8% in January and badly missed consensus for growth of 0.3%.
On year, production increased 6.9% vs 10.3% previously.
The surprise monthly drop was partly due to heavy snowfall, but also to manufacturers preparing for an expected fall in demand when a rise in sales tax goes into effect tomorrow.
"Companies are already cutting production and managing their inventory well, so the fall-off in the second quarter should be modest," says Citigroup economist Kiichi Murashima. (PR)
The Nikkei is +0.5% and the USD-JPY is flat at ¥102.84.