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Japan posts more than US$900m trade surplus in October: govt

Japan posted a trade surplus of more than US$900 million in October as the value of energy imports slumped, official data showed on Thursday.

[TOKYO] Japan posted a surprise trade surplus in October as the value of energy imports slumped on falling oil prices, official data showed on Thursday.  

The surplus came even as the value of exports declined for the first time since August last year, according to the figures. 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been trying for nearly three years to revitalise the world’s number three economy through his signature “Abenomics” programme, the foundation of which is based on aggressive monetary easing by the Bank of Japan that has led to a sharp fall in the yen.  

But figures on Monday showed that Japan’s economy slipped back into recession for the second time in Mr Abe’s current tenure as premier.  

Investors are looking to the announcement by the central bank later on the day to see whether Haruhiko Kuroda, governor, and other policymakers will add more stimulus to bolster growth.  

The trade surplus, the first since March, stood at 111.5 billion yen (US$902 million) in October, compared with a deficit of 741.76 billion yen in the same month of last year, the finance ministry said.  Economists polled by Bloomberg News had expected a trade deficit of 246.3 billion yen. 

Overall, Japan’s exports fell 2.1 per cent from a year earlier, while imports decreased 13.4 per cent, according to the official figures measured on a customs-cleared basis.  

The decline in exports was the first since August 2014.  The value of exports by Japanese firms to China shrunk 3.6 per cent in October, the finance ministry said, outpacing the overall decline.  Shipments to the United States, another major market, rose in value terms due to the weak yen but slumped in volume, the figures showed.