Japan's First Quarter GDP Growth Seen Slowing Sharply In Setback For 'Abenomics'

Woman in a Kimono makes her way at a shopping district in Tokyo

Japan's economy relies on exports of electronics, among other products.

Economists say while the contraction is temporary, the rebound will not be almost as strong as previous quarters.

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.

Private consumption, which makes up about 60 percent of the economy, probably stood flat after a 0.5 percent gain in the fourth quarter. However, there are concerns that trade friction with the United States could affect demand for exports.

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

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That marked the end of the longest sequence of growth since a 12-quarter run between April-June 1986 and January-March 1989 during the asset-inflated bubble economy.

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

The world's third largest economy contracted at an annualised rate of 0.6%, official data showed.

They say the preliminary real GDP fell 0.2 percent from the previous quarter.

It was the first decline in nine quarters, snapping the longest stretch of continued expansion since the late 1980s.

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