Japan revises GDP up, but trade deficit widens
A previous version of this report misidentified the metric that rose 4.7%. The gain referred to annualized growth. The report has been corrected.ReutersA view of the Tokyo Skytree, the world's tallest broadcasting tower.
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Japan's economy expanded at a faster pace in the January to March period than estimated earlier, revised figures by the government showed Friday.
The country's gross domestic product expanded at an annualized rate of 4.7% in the quarter, or 1.2% from the three months ended Dec. 3, according to data released by the Cabinet Office.
The data marked an improvement over the 4.1% annualized growth, or a 1% quarter-on-quarter expansion reported earlier, with the higher growth resulting from a smaller rate of decline in private investments and a greater increase in private consumption.
Barclays economists wrote in a note to clients that the strong first-quarter data were likely to lead to higher estimates for Japan's GDP in the current financial year ending March 31, 2013, to account for base effects.
"We will revisit our forecasts to account for the latest data, but maintain our basic view that the economy is likely to slow in [second-quarter of calendar year], reaccelerate during [third and fourth quarters] and face downward pressure in 2013 due to the 'fiscal cliff' facing both Japan and the U.S.," they wrote.
Trade deficit widens
Meanwhile, Japan's April balance-of-payments data, released at the same time by the Finance Ministry, came in weaker than expected, as the current-account surplus stood at 333.8 billion yen ($4.2 billion), missing a ¥455.6 billion median forecast reported by Dow Jones Newswires.
The trade deficit totaled ¥464 billion, widening 12.6% from a year earlier.
Exports rose 11.1% from the year-ago period, while imports climbed 11.2%.