TOKYO: Japan’s core machinery orders rose at a slower-than-expected pace in December but companies expect orders to accelerate in January to March, an encouraging sign that industry is ready to increase spending. Core orders, a highly volatile data series regarded as a leading indicator of capital spending, rose 4.2 per cent in December, Cabinet Office data showed on Wednesday, less than the median estimate for a 4.7 per cent month-on-month increase. Companies expect orders to rise 8.6 per cent in January to March, which would be faster than a 4.3 per cent increase in the previous quarter.