By Jonathan Davies

The Japanese economy came out of recession in the final quarter of 2014, but grew less than expected.

The world's third largest economy grew by 2.2% in the three months to December on the same period last year, compared with forecasts of 3.7%.

Japan has been recovering from the effects of a sales tax hike. It had initially boosted sales as consumers sought to buy goods before the tax increase, but sales struggled in the months after.

A second sales tax hike is scheduled for this year, with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delaying it until October.

Private consumption, which accounts for roughly 60% of the country's economy was up 0.6% in the quarter, despite forecasts of 0.7%.

Exports were up 2.7% and imports increased by 1.3%.

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