Analysts see mixed picture in Japan Oct.-Dec. GDP numbers

Private sector analysts say Japan's economy likely grew in the October-December period for the first gain in two quarters. They see stronger exports helping the economy, but note that inflation kept a lid on consumer spending.

Twelve research firms say they expect annualized GDP expanded in the quarter, with forecasts ranging from 0.4 percent to 2.5 percent.

The analysts say auto exports increased thanks to an improvement in parts supplies.

They also cite strong spending by foreign visitors as another bullish factor, with such expenditures statistically categorized as exports.

But estimates for overall consumer spending remain weak, ranging from minus 0.3 percent and plus 0.2 percent from the previous quarter.

Analysts say price inflation weighed on consumer sentiment, with households cutting spending on food and travel. Personal consumption accounts for more than half of Japan's economy.

The government will announce official GDP numbers for the quarter on February 15.