Tags: japan

Japan Trade Surplus Points to Resurgent Economy

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 09:25 PM

Japan reported an unexpected trade surplus for February and higher-than-forecast exports, adding to evidence of a rebound in the world’s third-biggest economy.

Shipments dropped 2.7 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance said Thursday in Tokyo. The median forecast of 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 6.5 percent decrease. Imports rose 9.2 percent, leaving a surplus of 32.9 billion yen ($395 million).

The yen’s decline of about 7 percent against the dollar since the Bank of Japan expanded monetary stimulus on Feb. 14 is making exports more competitive for companies such as Sony Corp. The Cabinet Office said Wednesday that the economy is picking up “slowly” after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern regions in March last year.

Today’s figures indicate that “a recovery in exports will likely be sustainable,” said Kohei Okazaki, an economist at Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Japan’s economy will likely return to growth this quarter and maintain a good pace of growth in the following quarters.

Retail sales in the U.S. rose the most in five months in February, adding to signs of improvements in global demand.

The yen rose 0.3 percent against the dollar immediately after the data before surrending gains to trade little changed at 83.42 as of 9:51 a.m. in Tokyo. Analysts’ median estimate was for a 120 billion yen trade deficit.

Extra Import Costs

The import bill is being swelled by energy costs because of rising oil prices, a weaker yen and nuclear plant shutdowns that followed last year’s Fukushima reactor meltdowns.

The yen has fallen from a post World War II high of 75.35 per dollar in October. The currency extended declines after Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa and his board members expanded bond purchases by 10 trillion yen last month and set a 1 percent inflation goal.

The central bank held off from expanding asset purchases this month as it monitored improvements. In yesterday’s report, the government said that private consumption is ‘‘firm” and capital spending is “picking up.”

© Copyright 2021 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 09:25 PM
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