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Japan still No. 2 economy - for now

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- The Japanese economy grew 1.1% in the final quarter of 2009 when compared with the third quarter, barely holding off China to remain the second-largest economy in the world, Japan's Cabinet Office reported Monday.

Japan's nominal gross domestic product -- a basic measure of a country's overall economic output -- grew at an annual rate of 4.6% for the year, making it worth ¥474.9 trillion, or $5.273 trillion, based on current exchange rates.

Japan's economy was helped by a rebound in exports, led by sales to China, which is Japan's largest overseas market.

Despite the upbeat news about Japan's economy, analysts say China's blistering growth will drive it past Japan's economy sometime in 2010.

A fast-growing Chinese economy finished 2009 with a GDP value of 33.53 trillion yuan -- equal to $4.906 trillion -- but has been growing at an annual rate of 8 to 10%, or twice that of Japan.

The United States remains the world's largest economy, with a value of about $14 trillion.

-- CNN's Kyung Lah contributed to this report. To top of page

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