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Japan current account deficit widens to record, Q4 growth slows

Published on Mar 10, 2014 9:37 AM

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan posted a record current account deficit in January and fourth quarter growth was revised down, heightening fears of a deepening economic slowdown amid soft exports and an expected chill in demand from an increase in the sales tax.

The current account deficit widened to a record 1.589 trillion yen (S$19.5 billion), more than the median estimate for a 1.4 trillion yen deficit in an ominous sign that shipments could continue to lag due to weak demand from Asia.

In the fourth quarter of last year Japan's economy grew less than initially reported due to slower business investment and consumption, revised data showed, adding to concerns that activity in the private sector lacks momentum.

The economy is expected to perk up in the current quarter as consumers bring forward purchases before a tax hike in April, but some analysts worry that underlying growth is not robust and that more steps to bolster activity may be necessary.

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