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Inventory, consumption, investment cloud Japan's GDP forecasts

TOKYO -- Japan's consumption tax hike in April bit consumer spending harder than expected, and fluctuations in inventory levels have muddled GDP forecasts, making the economic outlook here murkier than ever.

     Japan's preliminary real gross domestic product for July-September pointed to a second straight quarter of contraction, turning in a significantly weaker performance than private-sector projections and shaking the market.

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