TOKYO (November 12, 20120--Japan says its economy contracted in the third quarter, quashing hopes for a rebound and signaling to many economists the country may already be in recession.
The minus 3.5 percent annual growth rate for the quarter was in line with gloomy forecasts for the world's third-largest economy, which has suffered as a territorial dispute with China hammered exports already weakened by feeble global demand.
Based on the most recent data, economists predict a further decline in October to December, which would officially put Japan in recession, marked by two consecutive quarterly contractions.
The government also said Monday that consumer spending fell 0.5 percent as subsidies for auto purchases expired and corporate capital spending fell 3.2 percent.
Spending on reconstruction from the country's March 2011 disasters has also weakened.