Japan’s major firms enjoy 24% profit gain: survey

Japan’s major companies enjoyed a 24 percent profit gain in the three months to December, the fifth consecutive quarterly increase thanks to brisk foreign demand, according to a newspaper report.

The Nikkei business daily carried out a survey covering 859 listed firms that announced their October-December quarter earnings by Friday.

Their aggregate pre-tax profit came to 5.32 trillion yen (65 billion dollars) in the period, up 24 percent from the same quarter last year, while their sales rose five percent to a combined 81.2 trillion yen, the daily said.

Strong demand in emerging economies and North America drove growth in a wide range of export sectors, offsetting the negative impact of a strong yen, the daily said.

Profits jumped 78 percent in the machinery industry, with the chemicals and electrical machinery sectors following with 38 percent and 15 percent increases respectively.

But the auto sector’s pre-tax profit has so far been down on the year as the strong yen eroded profit recoveries in North America, the Nikkei added.