Japan's core private-sector machinery orders fell a seasonally adjusted 15.7 percent in December from the previous month to 774.1 billion yen (about 7.54 billion U.S. dollars), the Japanese government said Wednesday. The orders, widely regarded as a leading indicator of capital spending, plunged for the sharpest month-on-month pace since comparable data became available in April 2005, though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration has made efforts to bolster business investment to eradicate more than decades of deflation. The government left its basic assessment unchanged, saying the orders are "on a growth trend," but it added they "significantly decreased in December." In the reporting period, orders from the manufacturing sectors shed 17.3 percent to 292.6 billion yen (2.86 billion dollars), those from nonmanufacturers fell 17.2 percent to 455.7 billion yen (4.45 billion dollars). Overseas demand for overall Japanese machinery, an indicator of future exports, rose 8.6 percent to 841.7 billion yen (8.21 billion dollars), following a 12.2 percent dive in November and a 16.0 percent slide in October. The Cabinet Office estimated core orders would drop 2.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014, following a 1.5 percent expansion in the fourth quarter of 2013.