TOKYO (AP) _ Industrial production in Japan rose a smaller-than-expected 0.4 percent in February from the previous month, according to preliminary data released by the government on Thursday.

The marginal rise in output at the nation's factories and mines followed a month-on-month drop of 4.2 percent in January, proof that Japan's long-awaited economic recovery has yet to materialize.

Industrial output in Japan has fallen in recent months as a slowdown in other industrial economies such as the United States reduces demand for Japanese exports.

The seasonally adjusted figures disappointed financial markets. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected production to rise 1.7 percent from January.

Thursday's announcement by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry fueled concerns that the world's second-largest economy may not pull out of its worst slump in decades any time soon.

The ministry forecast that Japanese production will fall 0.8 percent in March from February but will increase 0.6 percent in April.