TOKYO (AP) - Japan revised upward its economic growth figures for the fourth quarter Monday to an annual pace of 5.5 percent, the strongest growth in three years, as companies invested more in factories and equipment than first thought.
That marks the eighth straight quarter of expansion, highlighting Japan's steady emergence from a decade of stagnation amid growing corporate profits, lower bad loans and increasing capital spending.
Last month, the Cabinet office had said October-December gross domestic product for the world's second-largest economy grew at an annual pace of 4.8 percent. Compared to the previous quarter, GDP grew 1.3 percent, the government said, up from a preliminary 1.2 percent.
The revision was largely due to stronger capital investment than initially calculated. Corporate investment jumped 3.1 percent from the previous quarter, higher than a preliminary estimate of 2.2 percent.
''There is absolutely no problem with capital investment,'' said Yasuo Yamamoto, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute in Tokyo. ''Although consumer spending has recovered, it still seems weak.''
Consumer spending was up 1.0 percent from the previous quarter, down slightly from the preliminary reading of a 1.1 percent rise.
Yamamoto said cautious spending was partly due to an unusually warm winter, a factor that's less relevant with the arrival of spring.
Public investment was also higher, recording a 3.7 percent rise. The data had previously shown a 2.7 percent climb.
The news cheered investors, who lifted the benchmark Nikkei 225 index 0.75 percent to 17,292.39 points.
Separately, the Finance Ministry said Japan's current account surplus grew 49.8 percent from a year earlier in January, boosted by strong exports.
The surplus in the current account, the broadest measure of Japan's trade with the rest of the world, stood at 1.194 trillion yen ($10.08 billion) before seasonal adjustment.
The current account measures trade in goods and services as well as unilateral transfers. It is calculated by determining the difference between Japan's income from foreign sources against payments on foreign obligations and excludes net capital investment.
Meanwhile, Japanese corporate bankruptcies rose 5.3 percent in February from a year earlier, the fifth straight monthly rise, Teikoku Databank Ltd., a private credit research agency, said Monday.
Though many of Japan's top exporters like automakers have reported robust earnings last year, smaller companies, including construction firms and retailers, have suffered amid sluggish sales, the research firm said.