Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 82.55 billion yen in March, the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday.
The headline figure topped forecast for a shortfall of 223.2 billion yen following the downwardly revised 29.4 billion yen surplus in February, although the trade balance fell into the red for the fifth time in six months.
Exports were up 5.9 percent on year to 6.204 trillion yen, also blowing past expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent following the 2.7 percent contraction in the previous month. It also marked the first monthly gain following five straight months of loss.
Exports to all of Asia added 0.5 percent on year to 3.390 trillion yen, while exports to China alone fell an annual 5.9 percent to 1.136 trillion yen.
Exports to the United States surged 23.9 percent on year to 1.024 trillion yen, while exports to the European Union declined an annual 9.7 percent to 615.338 billion yen.
Imports climbed an annual 10.5 percent to 6.286 trillion yen, climbing for the 27th consecutive month. That compares to forecasts for a gain of 7.0 percent after rising 9.2 percent a month earlier.
Imports from Asia climbed 5.9 percent on year to 2.756 trillion yen, while imports from China alone added an annual 3.9 percent to 1.327 trillion yen.
Imports from the United States jumped 8.4 percent on year to 536.749 billion yen, while imports from the European Union were up 10.6 percent to 578.320 billion yen.
The adjusted trade deficit was 621.3 billion yen - missing expectations for a shortfall of 446.3 billion yen after showing a deficit of 313.2 billion yen in February.
Upon the release of the data, the Japanese yen advanced against major rivals and now is trading near 106.63 against the euro, 81.28 versus the U.S. dollar, 130.25 against the British pound and 88.73 versus the Swiss franc.
by RTT Staff Writer
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