Stimulus boosts Japan growth

Tokyo, May 17 (IANS/EFE) Japan grew at a 3.5 percent clip in the first quarter relative to the same period last year, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ambitious program to combat deflation and revitalize the world’s third-biggest economy began to yield results.

Driven by private consumption, public investment and exports, Japan’s economy expanded 0.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2012, marking the second consecutive quarter of growth.

Consumer spending, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of the Asian nation’s gross domestic product, climbed 0.9 percent from the previous quarter.

Exports rose 3.8 percent relative to the three preceding months thanks to higher vehicle shipments to the US market, Japanese government officials said Thursday.

Japan’s leading exporters also have benefited from the yen’s 29 percent decline against the dollar – and 31 percent drop against the euro – since last November.

In one of his first moves after taking office in December, Abe unveiled a fiscal stimulus package valued at roughly 100 billion euros.

Meanwhile, his choice to lead the Bank of Japan, Haruhiko Kuroda, approved by parliament in March, last month announced a massive monetary-easing program aimed at ending a two-decade economic malaise.

Those plans include stepped up purchases of Japanese government bonds and relatively risky assets such as exchange-traded funds and real-estate investment trusts and are aimed at doubling the monetary base in two years.

The outstanding GDP result, which overshadowed the US’ 0.3 percent growth in the first quarter relative to the previous three-month period and the euro zone’s 0.2 percent contraction, serves as vindication of Abe’s program, though some analysts question whether it can be sustained.



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