Asia’s two biggest economies delivered diverging indicators Thursday. Japan slashed its third-quarter gross domestic product estimates while China released better-than-expected import and export figures for November.
Japan’s Cabinet Office said Thursday that third-quarter GDP grew at an annualized pace of 1.3 percent in the July to September quarter. Last month, Japan had estimated that its economy grew a strong-than-expected 2.2 percent over the same period.
Private consumption remains sluggish but Japan lifted its estimate for the three-month period. It grew 0.3 percent for the quarter compared to a previous estimate of 0.1 percent growth.
China’s import and export data for November proved a surprise. Exports for the month rose 0.1 percent on the year, according to data released by China’s General Administration of Customs on Thursday. These results are a stark contrast with the 5 percent fall anticipated by economists. Imports rose 6.7 percent on the year, making their biggest gain in two years. They were expected to fall 1.7 percent.
These results follow months of declines, including a precipitous 7.3 percent contraction for exports in October. They also come amid subdued global demand for Chinese products and concerns about incoming President Donald Trump‘s anti-China rhetoric regarding trade. He has threatened to slap a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese imports to the United States.
In another potentially worrying development for Japan, tourist flows are slowing. Foreign arrivals to Japan grew 16.8 percent in October, down from the 19 percent growth seen in September, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Markets ended mixed. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 closed up 1.5 percent at 18,765. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched up 0.3 percent to 22,862 while Shanghai’s SSE slipped 0.2 percent to end at 3,215.