Japan's economy grew at a much slower pace than expected at the end of 2013, stoking fears that Abenomics' momentum has stalled, but some economists say the dip will prove fleeting.
Japan's economy grew 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year from the previous quarter, below analysts' expectations in a Reuters' poll for a 0.7 percent gain, data on Monday showed. On an annualized basis the economy grew 1 percent, below expectations of 2.8 percent.
"Weak Q4 GDP (gross domestic product) figures show that the surge in spending ahead of the consumption tax hike has yet to come," said Marcel Thieliant, Japan economist at Capital Economics.
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"Looking ahead, last-minute spending to avoid the higher sales tax will likely lead to a further acceleration in economic growth in the first quarter [of 2014], followed by a slump in the second quarter," he added.
Many economists have been expecting consumers to rush out and stock up on supplies prior to the sales tax hike due in April, which will raise consumption tax to 8 percent from 5 percent, in a move some fear could strangle Japan's economic recovery so far as consumers suffer negative wage growth.