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Economists project Japan GDP grew 8% in Oct.-Dec. on export recovery

People wearing protective masks walk along an underpass on Feb. 8, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's economy in the October-December period likely grew an annualized real 7.97 percent from the previous quarter buoyed by a strong recovery of exports following a coronavirus pandemic-caused slump, market forecasts showed Wednesday.

    The forecast for the fourth quarter of 2020 by economists at 36 private-sector think tanks corresponds to a 1.93 percent expansion on a seasonally-adjusted quarterly basis, growing for the second straight quarter, according to the Japan Center for Economic Research.

    The growth is largely due to exports of goods and services estimated to grow 9.06 percent, according to the average projection, as economic activities restarted gradually after the first coronavirus state of emergency in Japan was fully lifted in May.

    The projection also showed that the country's gross domestic product in 2020 shrank a real 5.06 percent from 2019. It will be the fastest contraction since it fell 5.4 percent in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

    For the current January-March term, the economy is forecast to shrink an annualized 5.47 percent, as the government declared its second state of emergency for Tokyo and some other areas last month, amid the third wave of virus infections. It was initially set to end last Sunday, but was extended by one month.

    The Cabinet Office is scheduled to release preliminary data on the latest quarterly and annual GDP figures on Monday.

    Japan's economy contracted an unprecedented annualized 29.2 percent in the April to June period, after the first state of emergency was introduced in April last year and prompted people to refrain from nonessential outings and businesses to suspend operations.

    With the economic restart, the world's third-largest economy showed a sharp rebound in the July-September quarter, growing an annualized 22.9 percent.

    The economists forecast that GDP in the April-June period in 2021 will expand an annualized 5.76 percent.

    The survey was conducted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5.

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