Japan's trade surplus widened 30.9 percent to JPY 626 billion in April 2018 from JPY 478 billion in the same month a year earlier and far above market expectations of a JPY 405.6 billion surplus.
Exports increased by 7.8 percent year-on-year to JPY 6,822 billion in April, following a 2.1 percent rise in the previous month, but missing market expectations of 8.1 percent growth. Sales of transport equipment rose by 11.8 percent, boosted by cars (16.1 percent), and those of machinery went up 8.7 percent, namely power generating machine (5 percent) and semicon machinery (18.2 percent). Also, exports rose for electrical machinery (4.8 percent), of which semiconductors (4.3 percent); chemicals (5 percent); and manufactured goods (4.1 percent).
Among major trading partners, sales to Asia rose 6 percent, mainly to China (10.9 percent), Taiwan (0.8 percent), Hong Kong (1.3 percent) and Singapore (9.7 percent), while those to South Korea (-4.3 percent) and Thailand (-0.4 percent) fell. In addition, exports grew to the US (4.3 percent); the EU (14.1 percent), mainly Germany (14.7 percent) and the UK (21.5 percent); and the Middle East (6.8 percent).
Imports went up at a softer 5.9 percent to JPY 6,196 billion in April, compared to a 0.6 percent fall the preceding month and also missing market consensus of a 9.6 percent gain. Purchases of mineral fuels rose by 9.7 percent, namely petroleum (16.9 percent), and those of electrical machinery went up 1.2 percent, in particular semiconductors (5.3 percent). Also imports increased for: chemicals (7.1 percent); machinery (14.1 percent), of which computers and units (6.3 percent); manufactured goods (9.6 percent), of which non-ferrous metals (19.5 percent), iron & steel products (10.5 percent) and manufactures of metals (10.6 percent); foodstuff (3.2 percent), of which meat and meat preparation (10.5 percent) and fruits (4.4 percent). In contrast, imports of transport equipment dropped 5.8 percent, namely aircraft (-39.9 percent).
Imports increased from: China (2.2 percent); South Korea (16.7 percent); Taiwan (9.9 percent); Thailand (12.4 percent); Australia (12.9 percent); the US (3.9 percent); Germany (3 percent); Saudi Arabia (19.1 percent); and the UAE (29.6 percent). On the other hand, imports decreased from Malaysia (-11.2 percent), Russia (-5.7 percent) and the Middle South America (-6.5 percent).
In the first four months of the year, Japan's trade surplus narrowed to JPY 477 billion from JPY 794 billion in the same period of the previous year.
5/21/2018 7:23:14 AM