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Japan upgrades Q2 GDP as easing COVID curbs lift spending

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TOKYO — Japan’s economy grew more than initially reported in the second quarter, as the lifting of local COVID-19 restrictions boosted consumer and business spending.

That meant Japan saw its economy grow for a third quarter in April-June, even as worries about a slate of issues such as a global slowdown and high energy prices cloud the outlook.

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Gross domestic product (GDP) in the world’s third-largest economy expanded an annualized 3.5% in the second quarter, stronger than the preliminary estimate of annualized 2.2% growth, government data showed Thursday.

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The reading, which was better than a median market forecast for a 2.9% gain, equals a real quarter-on-quarter expansion of 0.9% from the prior quarter.

It suggested domestic demand staged a modest rebound after the government removed pandemic-related curbs on economic activity at the end of the first quarter.

Private consumption, which makes up more than half of the country’s GDP, grew 1.2%, the data showed, revised up from an initial estimate of a 1.1% increase.

Capital spending rose 2.0%, also revised up from a preliminary estimate of a 1.4% rise and more than a median market forecast for a 1.8% expansion, the data showed.

Domestic demand as a whole contributed 0.8 of a percentage point to revised GDP growth, while net exports added 0.1 of a percentage point.

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Japan has lagged other major economies in shaking off the drag from the pandemic due to a slow consumption recovery, blamed partly on aging consumers who are reluctant to step up services spending over fears of COVID-19 infections.

Japan’s ultra loose monetary policy stands in stark contrast to a global wave of interest rate hikes, which has led to a sharp selloff in the yen, complicating the outlook for policymakers.

The slide in the Japanese currency, which has lost about 20% against the U.S. dollar over the past six months, is pushing up the cost of imports and raised the prospect that households will be forced to pay more for goods.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Sam Holmes)



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