GDP marks first contraction in 9 quarters

GDP marks first contraction in 9 quarters

And exports of goods and services slowed, rising 0.6 percent compared to an increase of 2.2 percent in the previous 3 months.

The contraction, which was driven by declines in investment and consumption and weaker export growth, comes as Japan Inc frets over the possible effects of U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist policies on exports.

Japanese government data on preliminary GDP figures for the January-to-March period shows that the country's economy shrank for the first time in 9 quarters.

Japanese government officials expect the decline to be temporary.

Given Japan's reliance on export-led growth, trade friction brought on by President Donald Trump's efforts to trim the perennial USA trade deficit has raised uncertainty over the outlook for the economy.

"Globally, IT-related items have been in an adjustment phase, which weighed down Japan's exports and factory output", said Yoshimasa Maruyama, chief market economist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

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Analysts had expected a contraction, the first quarter pullback in two years. "However, it is clear that in the long term the pace of growth is slowing".

The economy contracted by 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in the January-March period, compared with growth of 0.1 percent at the end of 2017, the Cabinet Office said Wednesday.

"There wasn't any particular driver for the weakness — private consumption and public demand were flat while investment spending and net exports fell slightly", Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economic said in a commentary.

"There are worries about some emerging economy markets but the global economy as a whole is likely to continue its recovery for some more time".

The world's third-largest economy is shrinking again.

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