Japan’s economy has expanded at a faster pace than expected after a further easing of pandemic regulations boosted consumption, a positive outcome that will likely keep speculation simmering of a possible early election and potential central bank policy change.

Gross domestic product expanded at an annualized pace of 1.6% in the first three months of the year, exceeding analyst expectations, Cabinet Office data showed Wednesday. A revision of earlier figures also showed Japan went through a technical recession at the end of last year.

Better-than-expected spending by consumers and businesses was the main driver behind last quarter’s growth, while net trade dragged on the overall figures as shipments of cars and chip-making machinery fell.