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Japan exports blow past expectations in Jan, imports tumble

Published 2024-02-20, 07:06 p/m
Updated 2024-02-20, 07:06 p/m
© Reuters. Japanese exports grew much more than expected in January, boosted by improved overseas demand for automobiles and electronics, although sluggish domestic demand saw a bigger-than-expected fall in imports.

Exports grew 11.9% year-on-year in January, much more than expectations for a 9.5% rise and the prior month’s reading of 9.8%, official data showed on Wednesday. The reading was also Japan’s fastest pace of export growth since November 2022. 

Imports shrank 9.6%, more than expectations for a drop of 8.4% and accelerating from the 6.8% decline seen in December. 

Higher exports and weaker imports saw Japan’s trade balance unexpectedly rise to a surplus of 240 billion yen ($1.60 billion), from a deficit of 410 billion yen in December.

The reading indicated that Japan’s major exporters were likely to continue benefiting from improved overseas demand and a weakening yen in the near-term, offering the economy some support. A recovery in tourism also factored into stronger exports. 

But worsening imports signaled that local economic conditions were likely to remain subdued. Japan had unexpectedly entered a technical recession in the fourth quarter, recent data showed. 

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