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Japan’s Economy Contracts Again In Fourth Quarter

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Japan’s economy shrank more than expected in the final quarter of last year as consumer spending and exports slumped, adding to headaches for policymakers already wary of damage the financial market rout could inflict on a fragile recovery. Gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by an annualised 1.4% in October-December, bigger than a market forecast for a 1.2% decline and matching a fall marked in the second quarter (Q2) of last year, Cabinet Office data showed on Monday. It followed a revised 1.3% increase in the previous quarter. The data underscores the challenges premier Shinzo Abe faces in dragging the world’s third-largest economy out of stagnation, as exports to emerging markets fail to gain enough momentum to make up for soft domestic demand. Market speculation of additional monetary easing simmers, although the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) policy ammunition appears to be dwindling, analysts say after it deployed negative interest rates last month.