Japanese economic growth underwhelmed in late 2016

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Japanese economic growth slowed sharply in the final three months of 2016, according to data released by the government on Monday.

The economy grew by 0.2% in the December quarter, missing expectations for an increase of 0.3%.

The slowdown also appears to be part of a broader theme, having grown by 0.6%, 0.4% and 0.3% in the previous three quarters.

The Japanese Cabinet Office said that private non-residential investment grew by 0.9% during the quarter, adding 0.1 percentage points to GDP.

GDP was also assisted by net exports of goods and services which added 0.2 percentage points to the quarterly figure. The increase in exports was the largest since the December quarter of 2014.

Private consumption — the largest component within the Japanese economy — came in flat, a result that was in line with market expectations.

Government consumption rose 0.4%, adding 0.1 percentage points to GDP. However, a 1.8% decline in government investment completely offset that boost, detracting the same amount from the quarterly figure.

Private inventories also detracted 0.1 percentage points from growth, leaving the headline GDP figure at 0.2%.

As a result of the quarterly miss, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) rose by just 1.0%, below the upwardly revised 1.4% growth of the September quarter and forecasts for a deceleration to 1.1%.

Despite the slightly underwhelming report, seeing the economy grow at the slowest pace since it contracted 0.3% in the final three months of 2015, Japan’s finance minister Nobuteru Ishihara said the result did not change the government’s view that the economy remains in a moderate recovery.

He said that the nation’s job market is improving, adding that the gradual recovery in the global economy late last year contributed to the increase in exports seen during the quarter.

On the flat contribution made by private consumption, Ishihara said it was partially impacted by higher fresh food prices.

He also said that he expects economic stimulus to start having a positive impact on the economy from the second quarter of this year.

Already on a tear before the GDP report was released, the USD/JPY has soared in recent trade, jumping back above the 114 level for the first time since January 30.

It currently buys 114.11, and is up 0.81% for the session.

USD/JPY Daily Chart

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