Japan's industrial production data, released on Wednesday, may have offered a light at the end of the tunnel for the long stagnant economy.
In November, industrial output rose 1.5 percent on month, just a tad below the Reuters forecast for a 1.6 percent rise, up from a flat reading in October.
But the big positive was in the details, particularly in inventories, which fell 1.5 percent on-month and 4.8 percent on-year.
Izumi Devalier, head of Japan economics at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday that the print was generally "very positive," noting the sharp inventory drop.
"We're now down to levels we saw pretty much at the time of the VAT [value-added tax] hike. So inventories are very lean, which means that we should some pretty strong production numbers in the months ahead," she said.
As part of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's program to boost the country's long-moribund economy out of decades of deflation, dubbed Abenomics, the nation-wide consumption tax was boosted to 8 percent from 5 percent took effect in April 2014, in a move aimed at improving government finances.
But that clobbered the economy as consumers stopped spending after the hike, forcing the government to postpone a second sales tax increase, potentially until 2019.
The United States, Japan and other countries surrounding North Korea are on high alert over the nation's provocative actions, including the possibility it would conduct its sixth nuclear test, as Tuesday marked the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People's Army. (the-japan-news.com)
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to appoint Masayoshi Yoshino, a former State Minister of the Environment, as the new minister in charge of rebuilding areas hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. (NHK)
Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber, 23, will perform at Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium on Sept 23 and 24. It will be Bieber's fourth concert tour in Japan and his first visit since last August. (Japan Today)
Despite the initial excitement among major financial institutions, the Bank of Japan's push for exchange-traded funds tracking companies that actively raise employee pay or invest in new equipment has run aground. (Nikkei)
Japan's growing labor shortage threatens the nation's ubiquitous convenience stores, whose business model relies on an army of part-timers packing bento lunch boxes, manning cash registers and delivering goods 24/7. (Japan Today)
The labor ministry referred advertising agency Dentsu Inc. and three officials from its offices in Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto to prosecutors on Tuesday on suspicion of violating the Labor Standards Law by making employees work overtime beyond legal limits. (Japan Times)