Japan Q2 GDP growth revised up slightly, momentum weak

A cyclist using a mobile phone is running past a display showing the exchange rate between US dollar and Japanese yen during an afternoon trading session in Tokyo on Sept 7, 2016.
A cyclist using a mobile phone is running past a display showing the exchange rate between US dollar and Japanese yen during an afternoon trading session in Tokyo on Sept 7, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's economic growth over April-June was faster than initially estimated, the Cabinet Office said on Thursday (Sept 8), with upward revisions to capital expenditure and inventories, but weak demand at home and overseas is seen weighing on growth this quarter.

The Cabinet Office said the economy grew at a 0.7 per cent annualised rate over April-June, an upward revision of the preliminary reading of 0.2 per cent growth, in which the strong yen and weak demand were seen undermining exports and capital spending.

Japan's economy, the world's third largest, is seen lacking momentum in the current quarter as well, following a recent run of weak export, factory output and household spending data.

Unless overseas economies improve and the yen's gains fade away, the economy is at risk of faltering later this year, before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government fully implements the stimulus package it unveiled last month, some analysts say.

The tame economic outlook will keep the Bank of Japan under pressure to ease policy further as the central bank conducts comprehensive assessment of the effects of its stimulus programme at its Sept 20-21 rate review.

The revised gross domestic product (GDP) data compared with economists' median estimate of a 0.0 per cent reading in a Reuters poll.

The figure translates into quarter-on-quarter growth of 0.2 per cent in real, price-adjusted terms, against an initial reading of 0.0 per cent.

Capital expenditure, a key component of GDP, fell 0.1 per cent for the quarter, versus the preliminary estimate of a 0.4 per cent decline.

Inventories contributed 0.1 percentage point to growth, versus the preliminary slightly negative contribution recorded.

Private consumption, which accounts for roughly 60 per cent of the economy, rose 0.2 per cent, unchanged from the preliminary estimate.

Taken together, domestic demand contributed 0.4 percentage point to growth, versus the initial 0.3 percentage point registered. Net exports knocked 0.3 percentage point off growth.

With economic growth having ground almost to a halt and inflation sliding further away from the central bank's 2 per cent target, most analysts expect the BOJ to loosen policy this month.

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda signalled his readiness on Monday to ease policy further, shrugging off some concerns that monetary stimulus is reaching the limits of its effectiveness.