Japan: Trade deficit improves in February on weaker import growth
March 19, 2014
In February, nominal yen exports rose 9.8% over the same month last year, which was a tad above the 9.5% increase recorded in January. The expansion undershot the 12.5% increase that market analysts had expected. Imports expanded 9.0% in annual terms in February, following the strong 25.1% increase recorded in January and marking the lowest rate in 11 months. The increase, nevertheless, was above the 7.2% expansion that market analysts had expected. Imports moderated sharply in February as companies had anticipated purchases from overseas in January ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. That said, fossil-fuel imports continue to run high due to the ongoing shutdown of nuclear plants that followed the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011. The trade balance registered a JPY 800 billion deficit (USD 7.9 billion) in February, which marked an improvement over the JPY 2.8 trillion shortfall tallied in the previous month, but exceeded the JPY 773 billion deficit recorded in the same month last year. This marks the 20th consecutive month of trade deficit. The trailing 12-month sum of the trade deficit widened from JPY 12.6 trillion in January to JPY 12.7 trillion in February, marking yet another record high.