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[TOKYO] Japan's trade deficit nearly halved year-on-year in February as lower oil prices helped reduce the cost of imports, official data showed on Wednesday.
The monthly deficit came in at 424.6 billion yen (S$4.9 billion), down 47.3 per cent from a year ago and well below the median forecast of 1.0 trillion yen in a survey by the Nikkei business daily.
Exports rose 2.4 per cent to 5.94 trillion yen chiefly on higher shipments of automobiles, electronic parts and machine tools.
Imports fell 3.6 per cent to 6.36 trillion yen as lower oil prices helped reduce energy bills for the resource-poor nation.
Lower costs of liquefied natural gas (LNG) also reduced Japan's huge post-Fukushima energy bills.
Japan's LNG imports remained high as utilities switched to thermal power generation as the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster sent atomic reactors off-line.