Japan's Jan. economic index down for 1st time in 4 months

© Kyodo News

A key index reflecting the state of the Japanese economy dropped in January for the first time in four months, due partly to a halt in auto production amid the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, government data showed Tuesday.

The Cabinet Office's coincident index of business conditions for the reporting month fell 0.5 point from December to 94.3 against the 2015 base of 100, according to the preliminary data. The January fall came after a 0.4 point rise in December.

The office maintained its assessment that the domestic economy is "weakening" for the fifth straight month.

The index representing the level of shipments of durable consumer goods, including cars, plunged 12.5 percent, dragging down the overall figure. Indices for producer shipments and industrial production also fell.

In January, Japanese automakers were forced to halt their production lines and shipments were affected by the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The leading index of business conditions, forecasting the situation in the coming months, dropped 1.0 point to 103.7 in January for the first decline in four months. The index had marked a 1.0 point increase in December.