Japan January Trade Deficit At 2-Year High
The trade gap in Japan widened 67.8 percent year-on-year to JPY 1086.9 billion in January of 2017, above market expectations of a JPY 637 billion deficit and reaching the highest shortfall in two years. Exports rose less than expected as sales to China slowed due to the Lunar New Year holidays and those to the US declined. In addition, imports recorded the first annual rise in 27 months mainly due to oil and coal.
Exports increased 1.3 percent year-on-year to JPY 5421.9 billion, following a 5.4 percent jump in December and compared to expectations of a 4.7 percent rise. Sales of machinery jumped 5.2 percent; mineral fuels went up 52.3 percent; other products increased 5.1 percent, namely scientific and optical instruments (3.5 percent); parts of motor vehicles rose 12.5 percent; IC went up 8.4 percent and iron ore and steel products gained 8.1 percent. In contrast, sales of motor vehicles made the largest downward contribution and contracted 6.7 percent. Shipments to China increased 3.1 percent (12.5 percent in December) and those to the US shrank 6.6 percent (+1.3 percent in December).
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Imports surged 8.5 percent to JPY 6508.8 billion, following a 2.6 percent fall in December and higher than market expectations of a 4.7 percent gain. It is the highest value in 16 months. Purchases of mineral fuels went up 26 percent, mainly due to petroleum (35.6 percent) and coal (52.2 percent). Imports also increased for others (7.5 percent), machinery (9.8 percent) and electrical machinery (5.3 percent). Imports from China increased 7.2 percent (-5 percent in December) and those from the US jumped 11.9 percent (+9.6 percent in December) while those from Western Europe shrank 4.8 percent (-3 percent in December).