TOKYO, (Reuters) - - Japanese manufacturing activity expanded at a stronger pace in April than the previous month as export orders increased, a revised survey showed on Monday, suggesting firms’ output remains on track to rise thanks to overseas demand.
The Final Markit/Nikkei Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was 52.7, slightly below a preliminary 52.8 but still above the 52.4 notched in the previous month.
The index remained above the 50 threshold that separates expansion from contraction for the eighth consecutive month.
The final index for new export orders was 53.3, less than the flash reading of 53.9 but still growing faster than 51.9 in the previous month due to demand from Southeast Asia, the survey showed.
Interestingly, while input prices rose sharply due to higher raw material costs, panelists also sought to protect margins by raising their charges.
That’s a welcome indicator for the Bank of Japan’s goal of raising inflation to its 2 percent target, a task that has proven elusive as highlighted by Friday’s data showing March consumer prices remained benign.
The output prices index in April, at 51.2 from 50.1 in March, was up for the fourth consecutive month and was at the highest in almost 2-1/2-years.
The survey also showed firms’ output was up from March, albeit sightly below the preliminary results with the latest production increase driven by capital goods producers.
Industrial output fell more than expected in March as electronics and auto makers curbed production, government data showed last week, prompting some economists to question the strength of the industrial sector.
All the same, the PMI report for April suggests this decline could be temporary as overseas orders and output remained on a strong footing.
Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Shri Navaratnam