Japan revises upward growth estimate for Jan-Mar, to 1.9 pct

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Japan has revised upward its estimate of growth in the first quarter of this year, thanks to smaller drop in business investment than reported earlier.

The government said Wednesday that the economy grew at a 1.9 percent annual pace in January-March. That was an improvement over a preliminary estimate of a 1.7 percent expansion. The quarterly rate of growth was raised to 0.5 percent from 0.4 percent.

The latest data suggest stronger-than-expected growth in the current quarter. Still, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe judged the situation bleak enough to justify pushing back a planned April 2017 increase in the sales tax by two and a half years, to October 2019.

The latest data showed private consumption rose 0.6 percent in January-March, compared with an earlier estimate of 0.5 percent.