August 3, 2018 / 7:49 AM / in 2 months

Japan second-quarter GDP growth seen recovering on consumer spending, capex - Reuters poll

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s economy likely rose in the second quarter, swinging from contraction in the previous three months, a Reuters poll showed, led by consumer spending, capital expenditure and solid overseas demand.

FILE PHOTO: A woman in a Kimono makes her way at a shopping district in Tokyo, Japan March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

But risks remain as U.S. president Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policies and his threats to impose tariffs on imported autos and auto parts cloud the prospect for Japan’s export-reliant economy.

Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi meets U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington on Thursday with Japan seeking ways to counter U.S. pressure for a free trade agreement (FTA) and head off a rise in tariffs on its auto exports.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to have expanded at an annualised rate of 1.4 percent in the second quarter, the poll of 16 analysts showed. That would translate to a 0.3 percent expansion in April-June from the previous quarter.

In January-March, the economy shrank at an annualised rate of 0.6 percent, marking the end to eight straight quarters of growth.

Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, expects overseas demand and brisk capital spending to continue to contribute to growth.

“Consumer spending is not strong but it will not drag down the economy as the labour and wage situation are improving,” said Shinke.

Capital spending was seen rising 0.6 percent in the quarter, the poll found, up for a seventh straight quarter and accelerating from 0.3 percent growth in the first quarter.

Private consumption, which accounts for about 60 percent of GDP, likely rose 0.2 percent for the quarter, rebounding from a 0.1 percent fall in the first quarter.

External demand - or exports minus imports - was expected to add 0.1 percentage point to growth, the poll found, the same rate of contribution seen in the first quarter.

“The economy is expected to continue recovering in July-September, but we should heed growing uncertainties such as escalating trade friction,” said Yusuke Ichikawa, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute.

The Cabinet Office releases the GDP data on Aug. 10 at 8:50 a.m.(2350 GMT, Aug. 9).

Another Reuters poll found core machinery orders, a highly volatile data series regarded as an indicator of capital spending in the coming six to nine months, likely fell 1.3 percent in June from the previous month, down for a second straight month. But the pace of declines is expected to have slowed from a 3.7 percent drop in May.

From a year earlier, core machinery orders, which exclude those for ships and from electric power utilities, likely grew 9.5 percent in June, up for the third straight month.

The Cabinet Office releases machinery order data will be released at 8:50 a.m. on Aug. 9.

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Sam Holmes

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