Japanese economy growing quicker than expected

<p>New figures show the Japanese economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter of 2013.</p>

The Japanese economy grew at a faster rate than expected in the first three months of the year, according to new figures.

Government data shows the country's economy expanded at an annualised rate of 4.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, significantly higher than the original estimate of 3.5 per cent.

Furthermore, Japan's current account surplus had doubled at the end of the three-month period compared with a year earlier, standing at 750 billion yen (£4.9 billion) in April, according to Ministry of Finance figures.

Japanese equities responded to the news by rising sharply, with the Nikkei 225 index closing 4.9 per cent up at 13,514.20, helping overcome last week's falls.

The index struck a two-month low on Friday (June 7th), partly as a result of investor uncertainty over the US economy.

It had previously reached a 5.5-year high in May, underlining the volatility still affecting Japanese shares.

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