JAPAN

Record drop for Japanese industrial output

In November, Japan's industrial output plunged a record 8.5%. The government first foresaw a 8.1% drop, but carmakers and electronics companies' problems sharpened the losses.

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AFP - Japanese industrial output plunged a record 8.5 percent in November from the previous month as companies retrenched to cope with the recession, the government said Monday.

The slump was even bigger than an initial estimate for a drop of 8.1 percent, and was the biggest fall since comparable records began in 1953.

Compared with a year earlier, output was down 16.6 percent, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

Japanese companies have invested heavily in expanding their production facilities in recent years to meet brisk demand, helping drive a recovery in Japan's economy from recession in the 1990s.

But with consumers tightening their belts worldwide amid a wave of layoffs, many firms -- particularly carmakers -- are now reducing their output to avoid being left with a glut of unsold products.

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