TOKYO — Preliminary data show Japan’s economy grew at a 5.9 percent annualized rate in the January-March quarter as companies and consumers stepped up buying ahead of an increase in the sales tax.
The growth figures for the world’s third-largest economy released Thursday were in line with expectations a pre-tax hike rush. Strong private consumption, residential investment and corporate spending were the biggest contributors to growth, while public spending fell slightly.
Quarter-to-quarter growth, adjusted for inflation, was 1.5 percent.
Japan raised its sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent on April 1, and economists expect that change to cause a contraction in the current quarter.
The first quarter expansion was the fastest since the rebound from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters and the sixth straight quarter of expansion.