The economy is estimated to have grown for the first time in three quarters in the three months through December, climbing an annualized real 0.6 percent on the back of brisk consumer spending, according to a survey by Kyodo News.
The average forecast of eight major think tanks polled corresponds to an inflation-adjusted rise of 0.2 percent in gross domestic product from the previous quarter, the survey showed Friday.
Data for the October-December period are scheduled to be released by the Cabinet Office on Feb. 14.
According to the survey, the think tanks projected that exports and business investment contracted in the final quarter of 2012 but that the broader economy was buoyed by robust consumption and reconstruction-related demand in the Tohoku region.
“The economy has already climbed out of a recession and is heading for recovery,” the Dai-ichi Life Research Institute said.
Seven of the eight think tanks predicted that the economy expanded in the October to December period, although Nomura Securities Co. forecast a real 0.8 percent contraction on an annually adjusted basis.
Asked about potential drivers of growth, Norinchukin Research Institute said car sales began to pick up and housing demand to grow in anticipation of the planned sales tax hike to 8 percent in April 2014. The levy currently stands at 5 percent.
The Daiwa Institute of Research meanwhile pointed to unusually low temperatures that boosted sales of heating devices and winter clothing.
In the previous quarter through September, the economy contracted for the second time in a row, down an annualized 3.5 percent in real terms, indicating that a mild recession had begun amid sluggish demand both at home and abroad.