TOKYO (AP) - Japan's economy expanded at a slower-than-expected 1 percent annualized rate in the last quarter of 2013, despite a boom in housing construction and stronger public and private spending.
The data released Monday showed a 0.3 percent expansion from the previous quarter, adjusted for inflation.
It was the fourth straight quarter of expansion since the economy emerged from recession in late 2012. But the lackluster data will raise pressure for Japan's central bank to step up already massive monetary stimulus ahead of a sales tax hike on April 1.
Economists expect the tax hike to cause the economy to contract in April-June after expanding in this quarter, as consumers tighten their belts to compensate for higher prices.