Japan: Trade balance rebounds to a seven-month high in September
October 24, 2011
In September, exports rose 2.4% over the same month last year (August: +2.8% year-on-year), which overshot market expectations of a 1.0% increase. Meanwhile, imports jumped 12.1% (August: +19.2% yoy), coming in slightly below the 12.6% rise anticipated by the market. As a result, the trade balance swung to a surplus of JPY 300 billion (USD 3.9 billion) in September, from a shortfall of JPY 777 billion in August. Transport equipment, which accounts for around a quarter of total shipments, led the monthly increase, while exports of electrical and general machinery contracted. On the other hand, mineral fuel purchases, which account for around a third of total imports, rose 32.5% in September which, nevertheless, moderated from the 41.9% expansion recorded in August. Fuel imports continue to surge, as Japan needs to compensate shortfalls in the nuclear power industry with increased output in fuel-based power plants. A monthly analysis does not corroborate the slight moderation seen in the annual figures, with exports expanding a seasonally adjusted 2.0% over the previous month in September, which was above the 0.3% increase seen in August. Imports contracted 2.2% over the previous month, contrasting August's 2.6% expansion. With the September reading, both exports and the trade surplus have fully recovered from the 11 March disasters, despite rising global uncertainties and a strengthening yen.