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Japanese economy has pulse

JAPANESE machinery orders, a barometer of corporate spending, fell by just 1.7 percent in December from November - far less than predicted - but economists warned that the outlook remains gloomy.

Core private sector machinery orders, which exclude the unpredictable orders from electric power firms and ship builders, fell for a third straight month to 741.6 billion yen (US$8.06 billion), Japan's Cabinet Office said.

That was better than the 8.7 percent decline projected in a Kyodo News survey of economists and far smaller than the 16.2 percent plunge in November - the steepest monthly drop on record.

The report offered some hopeful signs. Machinery orders from manufacturers rose 7 percent, including improvement in steel makers.


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