Japan's core private-sector machinery orders plunged by a record 19.5% in May, the government said Thursday, signaling the first consumption tax hike in 17 years on April 1 has blurred the economic outlook, discouraging companies from beefing up investment.
The orders, excluding those for ships as well as from utilities because of their volatility, fell following a seasonally adjusted 9.1% drop in April, after soaring 19.1% in March, the fastest growth since comparable data became available in April 2005, the Cabinet Office said.
The value of the orders, widely regarded as a leading indicator of capital spending, slid to 685.3 billion yen, the smallest since January 2013, prompting the government to downgrade its basic assessment of the orders, according to Japan's (Kyodo) News Agency.
The office said the orders are at a "standstill in their growth trend," after saying last month they are "on a growth trend." In May, orders from the manufacturing sector decreased 18.6% from the previous month to 283.5 billion yen, while those from nonmanufacturers declined 17.8% to 427.0 billion yen.
Overseas demand for Japanese machinery, an indicator of future exports, fell 45.9% to 873.7 billion yen, following a 71.3% surge in April.