• Kyodo

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The economy grew an annualized real 2.5 percent in the July-September period, revised up from preliminary data and marking seven straight quarters of growth — the longest stretch on record — the government said Friday.

The expansion in real gross domestic product, the total value of goods and services produced in the country adjusted for inflation, beat the average market forecast for 1.5 percent growth. It was revised up from a preliminary reading of 1.4 percent growth, adding to evidence that the world’s third largest economy remains on a steady growth track.

Still, it is unclear how long the country will be able to stay on a growth path, with consumer spending — the biggest driver of the economy — remaining weak.

The figure corresponded to a 0.6 percent quarterly rise, the Cabinet Office said, up from 0.3 percent in preliminary data.

The government had previously said the longest run of expansion was for eight quarters, between April 1999 and March 2001. But seasonal adjustment caused the October-December quarter of 1999 to switch to negative growth, making the latest streak the longest since comparable data became available in 1994.

Stronger private capital expenditure, particularly in the financial and services sectors, and an increase in private inventory investment in raw materials such as oil pushed up the revised data.

Exports grew 1.5 percent from the previous quarter amid solid overseas demand as the global economy gains traction. The growth was unchanged from the earlier report released Nov. 15.

A Cabinet Office official said the data confirms the government’s view that Japan’s economy is “expanding moderately.”

But private consumption, a key factor accounting for nearly 60 percent of GDP, continued to be sluggish with a 0.5 percent decline from the previous quarter as spending on automobiles and mobile phones fell.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed companies to raise wages to spur household spending and raise persistently low inflation.

Economists say there are no signs that consumption is likely to pick up in the long term but some economists expect consumer spending to improve in the short term.

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