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Japanese factory production records its weakest quarter since the pandemic

Japan’s factory output rebounded in March after a dismal start to the year, with the quarterly figure recording its weakest performance since the height of the pandemic, a sign the economy may have contracted over that period.

Industrial production rose 3.8% in March from February as demand picked up after two straight months of declines, Commerce Department data showed on Tuesday. The result exceeded the consensus forecast of a 3.3% gain.

The improvement in output comes after weakness at the start of the first quarter, when a New Year’s Day earthquake northwest of Tokyo and production suspensions in the auto industry from January weighed on activity. On a quarterly basis, production fell 5.4% in the January-March period, the worst performance since the second quarter of 2020.

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