Growth Figures in Japan Disappoint

The economy in Japan grew at less of a rate than was expected during the last quarter of 2013, as individuals and companies spent less and failed to expand substantially from the third quarter.

The surprisingly weak economy grew much less than expected as its exports failed to grow as much as had been projected.

The gross domestic product for the country expanded at a pace annualized at 1% between October and December. Economists had predicted an increase of 2.8%.

The new figures likely will increase the concern amongst Japan watchers that are already worried over how the country’s recovery that is domestic driven would fare once the sales tax in the nation is raised from 5% to 8% starting in April.

When the rate is increased, observers expect somewhat of a decrease in demand for a temporary basis.

Though companies and consumers spent less during the quarter than had been forecast, economists said the number had been weighed down due to weak demand for goods made in Japan and exported.

The exports’ environment was slower to improve, said one economist, citing the continued instability amongst emerging markets amidst investors concern over the pullback in the monetary stimulus program in the United States.

The growth in Japan for the 2013 fourth quarter was under the 1.1% annualized rate recorded for the euro block and far below the 3.2% recorded for the United States.

The anemic figure of growth represented a further slowdown for the economy after a steep deceleration during the quarter of July to September.

The new data likely will increase doubts about the push by Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan’s push to turn two decades of sluggish growth around, has revived the confidence of consumers enough to maintain a sustained recovery.

The data also will raise concerns over the demand abroad for goods made in Japan despite a yen that is weakening against other currencies since Abe took over power the latter part of 2012.

The financial market in Japan took the latest data in stride at it opened on Monday and finished up for the day.