Aug 13, 8:24 PM EDT

Japan economy revs up to 4 pct annual growth in April-June

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TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's economy gained momentum in the April-June quarter, growing at a hearty 4.0 percent annual pace fueled by stronger consumer and corporate demand.

Economists had been forecasting a relatively strong performance for the world's third-largest economy, though the actual numbers were better than expected. However, the data released Monday are preliminary and likely to be revised.

The last quarter's growth was the sixth straight quarter of expansion and the fastest since the first quarter of 2015. The economy expanded at a 2.2 percent pace in January-March.

On a quarterly basis, the economy grew at a 1.0 percent pace, up slightly from the previous quarter.

The upbeat data are welcome news for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been facing growing criticism over a lack of progress on promised structural reforms needed to underpin long term growth in a country whose population is rapidly aging and on the decline.

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