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News Summary: Japan's economy shrinks

The Associated Press

YEN FOR GROWTH: Japan's economy shrank in the last three months of 2012, its third straight quarter of contraction, giving the government ammunition to defend its "weak yen" strategy as necessary to getting growth back on track.

UNWELCOME SURPRISE: Many analysts had forecast the economy would emerge from recession in the final quarter of 2012 as the Japanese yen weakened against other major currencies, giving a boost to Japanese export manufacturers.

NEW WAVE: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration took power in December with a platform of aggressive spending and monetary stimulus that helped drive the yen to near three-year lows.