By Nana Shibata and Rurika Imahashi, Nikkei staff writers
TOKYO — Japan’s economy slowed in the three months to June, amid escalating trade tensions and uncertainty over the world economy.
Gross domestic product for the quarter expanded at an annualized rate of 1.8%, according to preliminary figures released by the Cabinet Office on Friday. That compares with 2.8% growth in the first quarter.
The median forecast was for annualized GDP growth of 0.4%, according to a survey by Nikkei Quick News.
The poor showing was attributed to weak exports, which offset solid consumer spending and private investment.
Japan had a 10-day holiday in May to mark Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne, which likely weighed on consumption and production, economists said.
The global economic outlook remains uncertain in the face of heightened U.S.-China tensions. The International Monetary Fund in July lowered its global growth forecast for 2019 by 0.1 percentage point to 3.2%, although it said it expects growth to pick up to 3.5% in 2020.
The Cabinet Office in July cut its forecast for Japanese growth to 0.9% from 1.3% for the year through March, 2020, citing weak exports. That is equal to the latest IMF outlook.
Japan’s exports fell, year on year, for the seventh straight month in June, as China’s GDP growth slowed to 6.2% for April to June, the slowest pace since it began publishing data in 1992.
Against this backdrop, Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said last week that he is “more positive” about easing policy further to reach the central bank’s 2% inflation target.