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Slowdown in Japan raises the pressure on Abe

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is now under more pressure to deliver on his much-promoted effort to improve the country’s long-term growth prospects, after a government estimate on Thursday showed that the economy had slowed in the quarter that ended in September.

Recent delays on measures that would liberalize Japan’s labor market or level the playing field for Internet-based startups have raised questions about how committed Abe remains to his proposals, especially when they encroach on powerful vested interests.

According to the preliminary figures released Thursday by the government’s Cabinet Office, exports and consumer spending displayed signs of weakening after strong overall growth in the first half of the year. Japan’s gross domestic product slowed to an annualized rate of 1.9 percent in the quarter, down from 3.8 percent in the previous quarter. Growth had benefited from a bold monetary and fiscal push by Abe’s government to stimulate the economy.

The government estimate exceeded the average rate of 1.6 percent predicted by economists polled by Nikkei. The economists also forecast that growth would pick up somewhat in the fourth quarter. Still, the slowdown takes some of the shine off what had been a bright spot for an otherwise lackluster year for the global economy. On a quarterly basis, the Japanese economy grew 0.5 percent from the previous three months.

—Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times

Government in Egypt eases restrictions

CAIRO — Egypt’s interim government lifted a state of emergency as well as a nighttime curfew late Thursday, signaling its growing confidence in its ability to impose security after the unrest that followed the military ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in July.

The months-

The state of emergency was imposed Aug. 14, when Egypt’s security services stormed two squares in Cairo where Morsi’s supporters were holding sit-ins, killing hundreds of protesters. The government was legally required to end the state of emergency after three months.

Since Morsi’s ouster July 3, the authorities have eviscerated his Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, imprisoning thousands of members and virtually all of its senior leadership. The movement’s protests, largely as a result of government pressure, have become far smaller in many parts of the country than they were in August.

—Kareem Fahim, The New York Times