Japan's economy rebounds as consumers, companies spend more

TOKYO (AP) — Japan reports its economy resumed its longtime expansion in the last quarter as consumers and businesses stepped up spending.

The preliminary data released Friday showed that trade weighed slightly on growth. The economy grew at a 1.9 percent annual pace after contracting by 0.6 percent in January-March.

In quarterly terms, gross domestic product expanded 0.5 percent in April-June, rebounding from a 0.2 percent contraction.

Consumers spent more thanks partly to a rise in earnings mostly fueled by strong half-year bonus payments.

The contraction early in the year interrupted Japan's longest expansion in almost three decades. But growth has remained weaker than hoped for.

Still, the news could help Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his campaign to remain leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in an election in September.