Japan Economy, Construction & Lumber Shipments
Japan Economic Update
Japan’s GDP jumped to an annualized 5.9% in the January to March quarter thanks to a splurge of capital investment and consumer spending in advance of the consumption tax increase in April. Robust first quarter results exceeded economist forecasts and marked the sixth consecutive quarter of growth. Consumer spending increased 2.1%, representing the largest increase since 1997. Capital expenditures increased 4.9%. Exports also increased 6.0% from the previous quarter, while imports grew by 6.3%.
Economists forecast that the Bank of Japan will maintain the current level of monetary stimulus without the need for additional easing. According to a Bloomberg survey, the Japanese economy is expected to contract 3.3% in the April to June quarter before returning to positive growth of 2% in the third quarter.
Japan Housing Starts Summary
Japan’s housing starts declined 3.3% in April to finish at 75,286 units. Total wooden starts fell 8.5% to 40,035 units. Mansion condominiums declined 16.9%. Rental housing experienced a 12% increase as opposed to owner occupied housing which declined 16.1%. Platform frame starts fell 10.3% to 8,896 units and wooden pre-fab fell 5.9% to 1,075 units.
Softwood Exports to Japan
The Vancouver trucker’s strike battered Canadian softwood exports to Japan in March. March softwood exports totaled 71,785m3 or roughly a third of the volume shipped in March 2013. Production from the B.C. was hit particularly hard as the volume of SPF exports fell 78% to 30,193m3, whereas Coastal Hemlock fell 28% to 20,207m3. By value, March softwood exports fell 57% to $27.9 million.