Japan: Export growth slows sharply in November
Nominal yen-denominated merchandise exports rose 0.1% year-on-year in November, following the 8.2% increase in October. The print was below the 1.2% gain that market analysts had expected and represented the second weakest reading in two years.
Meanwhile, import growth decelerated from 19.9% in October to 12.5% in November, overshooting market expectations of a 11.8% increase. The still-robust print reflected strong purchases of petroleum.
As a result of the sharp slowdown in export growth, the merchandise trade balance swung from a JPY 0.4 trillion surplus in November 2017 to a deficit of JPY 0.7 trillion in November 2018 (October 2018: JPY 0.5 trillion deficit). Meanwhile, the 12-month trailing trade balance dipped from a JPY 0.1 trillion surplus in October to a JPY 0.8 trillion deficit in November, marking the first trade shortfall since May 2016.