TOKYO -- Forecasters are increasingly predicting that the U.S. economy will pick up under its next president, Donald Trump, with his "America first" policies and plans to boost fiscal spending. The International Monetary Fund recently upgraded its growth outlook for the U.S. while keeping unchanged the estimate for the global economy. As the U.S. becomes the world's leading economic driver, Japanese companies are increasing their dependence on the U.S. market.
Fanuc, a machine tool maker, has been busy converting part of its Tsukuba factory in Chikusei, Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. The plan is to use the new line to make more industrial robots instead of cutting tools. Amid an economic slowdown in China, among other factors, Fanuc's sales of cutting tools and numerical control devices for machine tools have stagnated. Robots, however, are selling "very briskly, especially in the U.S.," said Chairman Yoshiharu Inaba. Fanuc is keeping production of robots at high levels.