Japanese GDP expanded a better-than-expected 0.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, official data showed yesterday, although analysts warned that the world’s third-largest economy was still facing headwinds.
It was the second successive expansion for the Japanese economy after growth of 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. The results defied gloomy expectations by analysts who predicted a small decline at the start of this year, but some economists warned that signs of weakness remained beneath the positive headline figure.
“The headline figures were unexpectedly good, but if you take a closer look, the data was not something we should be pleased about,” Norinchukin Research Institute lead economist Takeshi Minami said.
“Rather, the data clearly showed weak points in the economy with poor consumption and corporate investment on plants and equipment,” Minami said.
Net exports contributed strongly to the latest growth figures as a fall in imports outweighed a decline in exports, data from the Japanese Cabinet Office showed.
“There is no clear sign of a bottoming out in exports, production and business confidence, and so I don’t think we can be optimistic about the future of the economy,” Dai-ichi Life Research Institute lead economist Yoshiki Shinke said.
Nevertheless, the better-than-expected figure pushed up Tokyo stocks, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 rising 0.24 percent, or 51.64 points, to 21,301.73, while the broader TOPIX edged up 0.04 percent, or 0.67 points, to 1,554.92.
The latest data were being closely watched amid speculation that weak growth could prompt Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to postpone a planned increase in sales taxes for the third time.
With global economic uncertainties — such as the US-China trade dispute and Brexit — some analysts have said that Abe might shelve the increase in the tax from 8 percent to 10 percent, which was previously expected in October.
Speculation is also mounting that he could use this decision to call a snap election over the summer, combining it with upper-house elections.
However, the strong headline GDP figure might dampen the speculation.
“For those who want to implement the tax hike as scheduled, today’s [yesterday’s] data is a tailwind,” Shinke told reporters.
Major Japanese business organizations support going ahead with the planned tax hike and top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga has recently said that the government would carry out the plan unless a crisis on the level of the 2008 financial meltdown happens.
DEVELOPING TALENT: The electronics contractor is looking to recruit people to work in core tech fields and emerging industries like electric cars and robotics Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), the world’s largest contract electronics maker, has launched a recruitment drive, offering a monthly salary of no less than NT$45,000 (US$1,485) to university graduates. For those with a master’s degree, the starting pay would be NT$52,000 per month at the minimum, while doctorate degree holders would receive at least NT$60,000 a month, Hon Hai said a statement issued early this week. The latest recruitment drive is aimed at attracting talent in core technology fields — artificial intelligence, semiconductors and next-generation mobile communications — and emerging industries — electric vehicles, digital healthcare and robotics, the
MRT TRAVEL FALLS: In February, ridership on the Taipei MRT System fell 8.96 percent from an average of 2.01 million per day in January Scooter sales jumped 13 percent last month as more commuters turned to two-wheelers to avoid public transportation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest statistics showed. Sales expanded to 74,493 units last month, compared with 65,913 units in February, statistics released on Wednesday by Kwang Yang Motor Co (光陽工業) and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications showed. In the first quarter, aggregate sales slid 0.51 percent year-over-year to 186,627 units, from 187,580 units, data showed. Kwang Yang, the nation’s biggest scooter manufacturer, continued to lead the market by selling 24,136 vehicles last month, growing 6.12 percent from 20,785 units in the previous month, while
Asustek Computer Inc (華碩), the nation’s leading PC vendor, yesterday launched its first dual-screen gaming laptop powered by Intel Corp’s latest central processing units (CPUs). The PC manufacturer’s announcement closely followed the US chipmaker’s unveiling of its 10th Generation Core H-series, the fastest commercial mobile processors with speeds of up to 5 gigahertz. Although Asustek’s Zephyrus Duo 15, the highlight of its Republic of Gamers line, is not the company’s first laptop with two screens, it is its first designed specifically for gaming. Nestled between the primary display panel and the keyboard, the secondary display, which Asustek calls the ScreenPad Plus, is angled
NO ILL EFFECT: Last month’s data mainly reflected deals made in February, when the spread of COVID-19 was still relatively mild in Taiwan, housing brokers said Housing transactions in the six special municipalities totaled 19,824 units last month, up 7.8 percent from a year earlier, brokers said, citing government data. Last month’s data mainly reflected deals made in February, when the pinch of the COVID-19 pandemic was not yet evident, they said. Taoyuan posted the largest improvement, with housing transactions soaring 36.6 percent year-on-year to 3,676 units, local government data showed. Taiwan Realty Co (台灣房屋) attributed the pickup to the completion of two presale residential projects in the municipality. Houses in Taoyuan have increasingly gained in popularity in the past few year years due to relatively affordable home prices and