Japan's Industrial Output Falls 2.3 Percent

Factories were apparently bracing for the fact that the country's sales tax went up Monday for the first time in 17 years — from 5 percent to 8 percent.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with a slowdown in Japan.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Japan's industrial output fell in February by 2.3 percent. Analysts had expected a modest gain. Factories were apparently bracing for a change in the country's sales tax. It's going up for the first time in many years from 5 percent up to 8 percent.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved that hike to help reduce Japan's public debt, which is the largest of any country in the world.

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