Japan: Export growth accelerates in January
Nominal yen-denominated exports increased 12.2% year-on-year in January, accelerating from December’s 9.3% rise and coming in above market expectations of 9.4% growth.
January’s increase was driven by solid growth in exports of machinery and electrical machinery, followed by exports of chemicals, manufactured goods and transport equipment, all of which accelerated sharply relative to December’s readings. Overall, strong overseas demand, particularly from China and Europe, drove the robust export performance.
Annual growth in imports decelerated sharply from 14.9% in December to 7.9% in January, slightly above the 7.7% increase that market analysts had expected. Imports of mineral fuels and chemicals contributed to more than half of total import growth in January.
Despite the acceleration in export growth, the monthly trade balance recorded a deficit, the first since May 2017. Nonetheless, the trade deficit narrowed to JPY 943 billion in January 2018 from JPY 1.09 trillion in January 2017. Meanwhile, the 12-month trailing trade surplus increased to JPY 3.1 trillion in January, up from the JPY 3.0 trillion surplus recorded in the previous month.