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) -- Japan Monday reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter economic growth.

The Japanese government said real gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 4.6% in the quarter, besting the 3.4% average forecast of economists surveyed by the

Associated Press


For all of 2009, Japan reported nominal GDP of $5.1 trillion, which was ahead of China's $4.9 trillion. That means Japan retains its status as the world's No. 2 economy. The U.S. is the world's largest economy.

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Tokyo said that consumer spending -- about 60% of Japan's economy -- rose 0.7% from the third quarter.

The stronger-than-expected GDP report wasn't enough to put Japan's stock market in the green Monday, however. The Nikkei 225 index fell 78.89 points, or 0.8%, to close at 10,013.30. Investors were reacting negatively to the announcement late Friday by China's central bank that it was tightening monetary policy, the



U.S. markets were closed Monday in observance of Presidents Day.

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This article was written by a staff member of