Japan's economy grew for a fourth straight quarter in the final three months of last year as a weaker yen supported exports, but tepid private consumption and the risks of rising U.S. protectionism cast doubts over a sustainable recovery. David Pollard reports.
(UPSOT) (Japanese) JAPAN'S CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY, YOSHIHIDE SUGA, SAYING: "Japan's economy grew for a four straight quarter...." Japan's economy grows for a fourth straight quarter, say the officials. Good news - if perhaps not as it good as it could be - say the analysts. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "We saw consumer spending flatline in the fourth quarter. We saw business expenditure pick up a little bit, but still in the grand scheme of things pretty weak." Exports the main driver of a one per cent growth rate between October and December. They show a 2.6 per cent jump - the biggest in two years. Corporate sector strength said to be doing little to buoy households - and inflation also on a flatline ... Japan instead benefitting from currency differentials. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "A lot of this continued performance is going to come from a weaker yen and of course question marks have been raised over the last few months in respect of Trump's presidency although it did seem to be something of a bromance over the weekend between Mr Trump and Mr Abe." And though the language from the meeting was positive, it's done little to dispel fears over protectionism. Japan's persistent trade surplus makes it a target for Trump. The yen potentially just a tweet away from sharpening - if and when he should choose to sharpen his rhetoric.