Japan economy's vital signs dull in March, but views upbeat

Japan reports that its manufacturing output and household spending fell in March, while the jobless rate remained at a 22-year low.

The data released Friday generally were slightly weaker than analysts had forecast, though the outlook for the world's third-largest economy remained upbeat.

Here are a few highlights from the data, and their implications:

FACTORY OUTPUT: Industrial output fell 2.1 percent from February but was up 3.3 percent from the same month a year earlier. But manufacturers were forecasting a relatively strong 8.9 percent increase in April.

INFLATION: Core inflation, which excludes volatile fresh food prices, rose 0.2 percent, well below the...