Japan: Exports disappoint in February despite weaker yen
March 20, 2013
Exports disappointed in February despite the massive devaluation of the Japanese yen. Nominal yen exports fell 2.9% over the same month last year, which contrasted the 6.3% rise seen in January and exceeded market expectations of a 1.7% drop. As a result, in the 12 months up to February exports were 1.7% below the level recorded in the same period last year, which represents a deterioration over the 1.6% drop seen in January.
Meanwhile, imports increased 11.9% in annual terms in February. The print followed the 7.1% rise tallied in January but came in below market expectations that had imports expanding 15.0%. Accordingly, the moving 12-month sum of imports rose 3.8% over the same period last year (January: +3.6% yoy). Nominal yen imports accelerated by the weakening of the currency, which bolstered the bill of shipments from abroad, particularly of fossil fuels.
Finally, the trade balance registered a deficit of JPY 777 billion (USD 8.1 billion) in February. The print contrasted the JPY 26 billion surplus observed in the same month last year but fell short of the JPY 856 billion shortfall anticipated by market analysts. As a result, the trailing 12-month sum of the trade deficit widened from JPY 7.1 trillion in January to JPY 7.9 trillion in February.