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Japan’s trade surplus hits 18-month high

Japan’s trade surplus soared almost six-fold last month from a year earlier, hitting an 18-month high on the back of recovering demand in China and other Asian countries, data showed on Thursday. Exports exceeded imports for an eighth straight month, although they remain sharply lower than before the current global economic slump began. Asia’s biggest economy posted a trade surplus of 520.64 billion yen (5.7 billion dollars) in September — the highest figure since March 2008 — up from 90.97 billion yen a year earlier, the finance ministry said. Exports were down 30.7 percent from a year earlier, better than a drop of 36.0 percent in August. Imports fell 36.9 percent due to lower energy costs.

Japan’s trade surplus with the rest of Asia grew 8.0 percent in September from a year earlier to 723.01 billion yen, the first rise in 13 months, with the deficit with China shrinking 73.4 percent to 66.85 billion yen. The surplus with the US fell 33.8 percent from a year earlier to 371.27 billion yen, while with the European Union area it dropped 64.3 percent to 132.34 billion. Asian demand will probably remain firm, but a recovery in exports to Europe and the United States is likely to lose steam in the future, said Maiko Noguchi, senior economist at Daiwa Securities SMBC Co.

Japan’s heavy reliance on foreign markets to drive its economic growth left it highly vulnerable to the recent global recession. Its economy returned to positive growth in April-June, limping out of a year-long recession as overseas economies picked up.

via Japan’s trade surplus hits 18-month high.

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