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Japan's fourth quarter growth revised up to 0.5%

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Tokyo (AFP)

Japan's economy grew faster than initially thought in the October-December quarter, due partly to strong corporate investment, official figures showed Friday.

The world's third-biggest economy grew 0.5 percent quarter-on-quarter, up from the preliminary figure of 0.3 percent, the cabinet office said.

The latest figure -- an annualised 1.9 percent -- is slightly better than market expectations, confirming that Japan has bounced back to growth as the negative impact from a series of natural disasters over the summer receded.

Japan's household spending in January edged up 2.0 percent, beating a market expectation of a 0.5 percent decline, a separate survey by the internal affairs ministry said.

Housing costs, vehicle and telecommunications-related fees and education costs were among the reasons for the rise in spending, the ministry said, ahead of the start of a new fiscal year in April.

The Friday data suggest a mild turnaround after eight consecutive quarters of growth ended in January-March last year, interrupting a winning streak not seen since the heady days of Japan's "miracle" boom of the 1980s.

However, the cabinet office on Thursday revised down its judgement on the economy as a leading business confidence index declined in January for the third straight month.

It assessed the latest index as "signaling a possible turning point" towards a downturn, the cabinet office said.

Analysts have also warned that US-led trade wars could be a major risk factor for an economy still struggling to win a long battle against deflation.

The growth came after a dip following a string of natural disasters last summer, including massive flooding in western regions due to torrential rain, a typhoon that inundated a major international airport, and an earthquake in the north that disrupted supply lines.

The temporary closure of the Kansai International Airport led to a fall in tourism and overseas shipments.

For the last year, Japan's economy grew 0.8 percent year-on-year, after a 1.9 percent growth in 2017, the Cabinet Office said.

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