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Economy in Brief

Japanese GDP Slower with 0.1% Increase. Haver Databases Updated Faster with New "Asian Shift"
by Carol Stone November 12, 2004

Japan's GDP barely moved in Q3, gaining a bit less than 0.1%. Press reports asserted that this was a disappointing figure, as forecasters had expected 0.5%, stronger than in Q2, not weaker as seen in the actual result.

However, there are several signs of vigor in this report. Private consumption was able to maintain its recent strong trend through a fourth quarter, the most vigorous sustained pace since early 1997. Several other components, although weaker in Q3 than in prior periods, need not be interpreted as pointing to a general weakening in activity. There were outright declines in private fixed capital formation, inventory building and public expenditures and a slowing in export growth. Imports picked up. A rise in imports takes away from GDP, but that can also be seen as a sign of firm domestic demand. The smaller contributions from private investment and from exports need also to be viewed in the context of the two prior quarters, in which those items experienced very large increases. Thus, while Q3 was slow overall, there still appears to be good forward momentum in the Japanese economy.

These data are contained in Haver's extensive JAPAN database. This release marks the first major Japanese report we have posted to our databases in "real time", that is, within moments of its release. An "Asian shift" with a database manager and assistants began work this week in the evening hours on the East Coast. Timely updating of more Asian data will ensue. We are pleased to be able to bring data users this enhanced service. It joins our "European shift", which started about a year-and-a-half ago in New York's pre-dawn hours to bring early processing of key European reports.

3 Qtr 2004 2 Qtr 2004 1 Qtr 2004 Year/ Year 2003 2002 2001
Japan: GDP 0.1 0.3 1.5 3.9 2.4 -0.2 0.6
Private Consumption 0.9 0.8 1.1 3.9 0.8 1.0 2.1
Private Fixed Investment -0.2 0.6 1.8 7.4 7.5 -6.4 0.4
Exports 0.4 3.6 4.8 13.9 10.1 8.1 -6.2
Imports 2.7 2.3 3.2 11.5 5.0 2.0 0.1
Public Demand -0.4 -1.4 -0.5 -2.2 -2.1 -0.0 -0.6
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