Japan's economy grows at 0.5 percent annual pace in Oct-Dec

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's economy grew at a slower than expected 0.5 percent annual pace in the October-December quarter, as strong exports failed to fully compensate for relatively weak domestic demand.

The data released Wednesday showed Japan has managed eighth straight quarters of growth, the longest expansion since the financial bubble of the late 1980s. But the figures were well below analysts' forecasts.

Growth in the previous quarter was revised down to 2.2 percent from 2.5 percent.

The government said Wednesday that the economy grew 0.1 percent in quarterly terms. The lackluster performance reflects the difficulty of stimulating more investment and spending as Japan's population ages and declines.

Housing investment weakened although overall consumer spending, which accounts for the lion's share of activity, was higher.