• Japan economy grows (revised) 0.3% in Q4

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    TOKYO: Japan’s economy expanded by a revised 0.3 percent in the last quarter of 2016, government data showed Wednesday, as company investment and a weaker yen propped up growth.

    The latest GDP figure was marginally higher than an initial estimate of 0.2 percent growth in the October-December period, but lower than market expectations for a 0.4 percent expansion.

    It marked the fourth straight quarter of expansion in the world’s third-largest economy.

    For 2016, the Japanese economy grew 1.0 percent, unchanged from the initial estimate, after posting 1.2 percent growth the previous year, the Cabinet Office said.

    Government stimulus measures and capital spending were key growth drivers.

    A weak yen also helped prop up the economy by driving exports, but inflation and consumer spending remain weak as cautious firms avoid big pay hikes.

    “Private non-residential investment was revised up significantly as we’d expected, and so overall there is little surprise” to the revised figures, said Taro Saito, senior economist at Tokyo’s NLI Research Institute.

    “The Japanese economy is on track for moderate recovery and we expect (the Bank of Japan) will keep the current policy for the time being,” he added.

    Japan’s economy contracted in the last three months of 2015, before bouncing back last year although the recovery has been wobbly.

    That is putting Japanese officials under increasing pressure as more and more economists write off Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bid to cement a lasting recovery, dubbed Abenomics.

    The plan—a mix of aggressive monetary easing and huge government spending along with reforms to the economy—stoked a stock market rally and fattened corporate profits, but the effect on the wider economy has been less dramatic.

    While Japan’s job market is tight, individual spending—which accounts for more than a half of the country’s GDP—has remained in the deep freeze.

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