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ECONOMY

Japanese companies to ramp up capital spending, Nikkei survey finds

  • June 3, 2018
  • , Nikkei Asian Review , 2:03 a.m.
  • JMH Translation

Over 1,000 Japanese companies plan to raise their aggregate capital spending by 16.7% in the current fiscal year, marking the second straight annual increase, a Nikkei survey has found.

 

All told, the 1,091 companies included in the poll plan to spend 27.9 trillion yen ($254.7 billion) in the current fiscal year. Nikkei’s capital spending trend survey, which covers all industries, also revealed notably large outlays in the materials and electric appliance sectors, in particular.

 

Corporate Japan is ready to spend more after the total net income of all listed companies that closed their books in March 2018 renewed an all-time high for the second year in a row. Many businesses aim to use their ample funds to upgrade aging equipment and boost productivity.

 

Among 658 companies for which domestic and overseas spending plans could be compared, expenditures in Japan are set to rise 18.7%, while those abroad are to climb 17.7%. This would mark the first time in two years for the growth in domestic spending to exceed the overseas figure.

 

JFE Steel plans to spend over 100 billion yen to update equipment to produce coke, a key steelmaking material, and a blast furnace at its west Japan works in Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures. The first upgrades in 49 and 15 years, respectively, are aimed at enhancing productivity to better compete with Chinese rivals.

 

Japanese companies have long been hesitant to spend, due to sluggish earnings in the wake of Japan’s economic bubble collapse and years of deflation. Dai-ichi Life Research Institute estimates the average equipment usage age increased 5.41 years from fiscal 1990 to fiscal 2011.

 

Since then, however, companies have become more willing to replace old machinery. In fiscal 2017, the average age was up 4.96 years from 1990, suggesting a growing inclination to invest.

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