Japanese firms see bump in pretax profits

Japanese businesses as a group saw a healthy rise in ordinary profits from January to March compared with the same period a year ago. It's the first annual increase in eight quarters.

Finance Ministry officials say combined pretax profits for the quarter rose by 26 percent.

The figure comes from a survey of around 22,000 firms, not including companies in the financial and insurance sectors.

Manufacturers reported an increase of 63.2 percent. The number for the transportation equipment sector nearly tripled. That was due to strong vehicle sales in Japan and elsewhere.

Non-manufacturers saw an increase of 10.9 percent.

Capital investment went the other way. Companies spent 7.8 percent less as the coronavirus pandemic prompted many to tighten their belts.