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UPDATE 1-Japan machinery orders jump, BOJ upbeat on economy

Leika Kihara
Wednesday, 15 Jan 2014 | 7:49 PM ET

* Nov core machinery orders up 9.3 pct vs f'cast +1.2 pct

* Govt revises up assessment on machinery orders

* BOJ Kuroda repeats economy to keep recovering moderately

TOKYO, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Japan's core machinery orders jumped in November for the second straight month of gains, a sign companies may ramp up investment to meet strong domestic demand and boding well for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to revive the economy.

Companies have been slow to expand investment, so evidence that capital expenditure will grow this year would be a positive for the growth outlook, helping to quicken progress toward ending years of grinding deflation.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda maintained his upbeat view on the economy, saying it is expected to continue a moderate recovery despite the likely pain from a sales tax hike in April.

"Japan's economy is making steady progress toward achieving the BOJ's 2 percent price target," Kuroda told a quarterly meeting of the bank's regional branch managers on Thursday.

Core machinery orders, a highly volatile data series regarded as an indicator of capital spending in the coming six to nine months, jumped 9.3 percent in November. That was the fifth biggest rise on record and blew past a median market forecast for a 1.2 percent increase.

The value of core orders, at 882.6 billion yen ($8.5 billion), was the biggest in more than five years, prompting the government to raise its assessment to say orders were "increasing as a trend." Last month, it said orders were rising gradually as a trend.

Compared with a year earlier, core orders, which exclude those of ships and electric power utilities, increased 16.6 percent in November, government data showed on Thursday.

Many officials in the government and the central bank view capital expenditure as an essential component of economic growth because it can spur job creation, which could lead to higher wages and stronger consumer spending.

Japan passed the halfway mark towards its 2 percent inflation goal in November as prices rose the most in five years, while regular wages halted 17 months of declines, underlining progress on two key fronts to revitalise the economy.

Growth is likely to continue this year due to strong domestic demand, but economists still doubt whether the BOJ can meet its inflation target in the two-year time frame that it outlined in an overhaul of monetary policy last year