Japan’s economy shrinks in January-March quarter

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Japan’s economy shrank at an annualized rate of 0.6 percent in the quarter through March, as private investment and public spending declined.

The Cabinet Office said Wednesday Japan’s gross domestic product — the value of a nation’s goods and services — dipped on-quarter 0.2 percent. The annualized rate, which is also seasonally adjusted, is what that decline would have been if it had continued the whole year.

Analysts had expected a decline. They say it is not likely to show a serious ongoing slowdown.

The Japanese economy has been relatively healthy in recent quarters, picking up from the doldrums that spanned previous decades, on extremely free lending and a government program designed to fight deflation — the continual spiraling down of prices.

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