Japan's economy shrinks at fastest pace in 6 years, virus clouds outlook


A U.S. health official in a protective suit standing in front of a portable bio-containment unit speaks to U.S. passengers who have chosen to leave the Diamond Princess cruise ship, on a chartered evacuation aircraft to fly back to the United States, at Haneda airport in Japan February 17, 2020. Courtesy of Philip and Gay Courter/via REUTERS

TOKYO: Japan's economy shrank at the fastest pace in six years in the December quarter as a sales tax hike and soft global demand hurt consumption and capital expenditure, keeping policymakers under pressure to prop up growth with additional stimulus.

The hit to the world's third-largest economy comes amid fresh concerns about weakness in the current quarter, as the coronavirus damages output and tourism, stoking fears Japan may be on the cusp of a recession - defined as two straight quarters of decline.

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