Japan's machinery orders fell for the third straight month in November, prompting the government to cut its assessment of this closely watched gauge of future business investment.
Japan's core private sector machinery orders fell 3 percent from the previous month to 723 billion yen ($8.7 billion), the Cabinet Office said Thursday. The result sharply undershot Kyodo news agency's average market forecast for a 1.3 percent rise.
The figure excludes volatile numbers from shipbuilders and electric power companies.
While machinery orders are improving overall, the latest report indicates "developing weakness in nonmanufacturing sectors," the Cabinet Office said in its report.
Japanese companies are grappling with a basket of pressures on their bottom lines, including a persistently strong yen and rising raw materials prices. The expiration of government subsidies for consumers has hurt spending at home amid uncertainties about the global economy.
Goldman Sachs economist Yuriko Tanaka described the recovery in capital spending as "still slow."
"Growth has slowed for exports and consumer durables, which were underpinning the economic recovery," Tanaka said in a note to clients.
Orders from nonmanufacturers tumbled 10.5 percent, with particularly sharp drops in the transportation, telecommunications and mining sectors. The fall overshadowed a 10.6 percent rise among manufacturers such as auto and steel makers.
Overseas orders, an indicator of prospects for Japanese exports, fell 17.8 percent, the government said.
Economists say machinery orders likely returned to positive territory for the 2010 calendar year and will gradually improve this year.
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