Japan economy marks fourth straight quarter of expansion

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s economy expanded at a faster than earlier estimated annual rate of 1.8 per cent in July-September, powered by stronger consumer purchases and corporate investment ahead of an October 1 tax hike.

However that tax increase is expected to hurt growth in coming months.

The data issued yesterday were a revision of the earlier reported 0.2 per cent growth in the last quarter. The quarterly rate of expansion was 0.4 per cent.

The world’s third largest economy has marked four straight quarters of expansion.

The better results reported by the Cabinet Office also reflect a less severe drop in exports than preliminary reports suggested.

However economists are forecasting much weaker growth in the October-December quarter.

A Bank of Japan measure of consumer demand showed a 7.4 per cent drop in October following the increase in the sales tax to 10 per cent from eight per cent. That “points to a sharp fall in private consumption in the fourth quarter,” Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

“We are more pessimistic about the outlook for global GDP growth than most analysts and therefore think that external demand will remain weak,” he said. “The upshot is that we expect GDP growth to shrink by 0.2 per cent next year.”

People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo yesterday. Japan’s economy grew at an annual rate of 1.8 per cent in July-September, according to revised government data, better than the modest annual pace of 0.2 per cent it gave as an earlier estimate. PHOTO: AP