Japan's economy contracted for first time in two years in Q1 2018

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He forecasts that growth will slip to 1.2 percent this year from 1.7 percent in 2017.

This brought to an end a series of 8 consecutive quarters of growth, a winning streak not seen since the heady days of the "miracle" boom of the 1980s when the Japanese economy ruled the world.

Domestic demand lopped 0.2 percentage points (ppts) of quarterly growth, driven lower by declines in housing investment and private business inventories.

However, a breakdown of the data shows export growth is losing momentum, expanding just 0.6 percent in the first quarter after growth of 2.2 percent October-December past year.

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Japan's Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Wednesday there was no change to the government's view that the economy was recovering moderately.

Exports rose 0.6 percent.

The capital spending figures may presage data due on Thursday that is forecast to show core machinery orders, a leading indicator of capital expenditure, fell in March for the first time in three months.

Japanese government officials expect the decline to be temporary.

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The limp first-quarter performance was spread across different areas of the economy, according to Marcel Thieliant, senior Japan economist at research firm Capital Economics. The median estimate was for consumer spending to remain unchanged.

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.

"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".

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