Friday May 26 2017
Japan Inflation Rate At 3-Month High Of 0.4% In April
Statistics Japan l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Japan rose 0.4 percent year-on-year in April of 2017, following a 0.2 percent rise in March and matching market consensus. It was the highest inflation rate since January, mainly driven by faster rises in cost of food and transport while cost of housing continued to fall.

Year-on-year, upward prices pressure came from: food (0.9 percent from 0.5 percent in a month earlier, namely fresh food: 1.8 percent from -0.4 percent); fuel, light and water charges (0.9 percent from -0.8 percent), medical care (0.2 percent from 0.5 percent), transportation and communication (0.3 percent from 0.2 percent), education (0.7 percent from 1.0 percent), culture and recreation (0.6 percent from 0.7 percent) and miscellaneous (0.2 percent from 0.4 percent). In contrast, cost declined for: housing (-0.2 percent from -0.2 percent), furniture and household utensils (-0.9 percent from -0.8 percent) and clothes and footwear (-0.1 percent from 0.6 percent).

Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, went up 0.3 percent on the year, following a 0.2 percent gain in the prior month while market estimated a 0.4 percent rise. It was the fourth straight month of increase and marking its highest level since April 2015. 

On a monthly basis, consumer prices went up 0.1 percent, following a 0.1 percent drop in the prior two months.

In Tokyo, consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in May, after a 0.1 percent drop in April while market estimated a flat reading. Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, increased 0.1 percent from a year earlier, compared to a 0.1 percent fall in the previous month. It was the first anual rise since December 2015.




Monday May 22 2017
Japan Trade Surplus Narrows 40.6% YoY In April
Ministry of Finance l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

Japan's trade surplus narrowed 40.6 percent to JPY 481.7 billion in April 2017 from JPY 811.2 billion a year earlier and below market consensus of a JPY 520.7 billion surplus. It was the smallest trade surplus since January, as exports rose less than imports.

In April, sales increased by 7.5 percent from a year earlier to JPY 6,329.2 billion, compared to a 12.0 percent gain in a month earlier while market expected a 7.8 percent rise. It was the fifth straight month of increase, as sales of machinery grew 11.3 percent, boosted by power generating machine (16.4 percent) and semicon machinery (29.9 percent). Also, exports of chemicals rose 10.8 percent; and those of manufactured goods went up 7.1 percent, led by iron and steel products (18.1 percent). Exports of electrical machinery advanced 6.7 percent, due to higher sales of semiconductors (11.1 percent) and electrical apparatus (14 percent). In addition, exports of transport equipment went up 1.3 percent, as sales of motor vehicles rose 1.8 percent.

Among major trading partners, exports rose to China (14.8 percent), the US (2.6 percent), the EU (2.2 percent), South Korea (22.3 percent), Taiwan (14.7 percent), Hong Kong (3.2 percent) and Thailand (8.4 percent).

Imports jumped 15.1 percent to JPY 5,847.4 billion, following a 15.8 percent rise in the prior month and faster than estimates of a 14.8 percent growth. Purchases rose for all categories: Mineral fuels (58.7 percent); foodstuff (6.6 percent); raw materials (13.2 percent); chemicals (3.7 percent); manufactured goods (8.0 percent); machinery (5.3 percent), electrical machinery (16.0 percent), transport equipment (1.6 percent) and others (1.7 percent).

Among major trading partners, imports rose from China (7.5 percent), the US (9.8 percent), the EU (5.4 percent), South Korea (16.8 percent) and Taiwan (4.4 percent).




Thursday May 18 2017
Japan GDP Growth Strongest In A Year In Q1
Cabinet Office | Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

The Japanese economy advanced 0.5 percent on quarter in the March quarter of 2017, following a 0.3 percent growth in the previous period and above market consensus of a 0.4 percent growth, preliminary estimates showed. It was the strongest expansion since the first quarter 2016, supported by private consumption, exports and an unexpected rise in capital expenditure.

Compared to the December quarter 2016, private consumption rose 0.4 percent, following a stagnation in the previous period and adding 0.2 percentage point to growth.

Private non-residential investments/ capital expenditure unexpectedly increased by 0.2 percent, after declining 1.9 percent in the December quarter and beating market estimates of a 0.4 percent fall. Private residential investment grew by 0.7 percent, faster than a 0.4 percent rise in Q4.

External demand added 0.1 percentage points to growth, as exports of goods and services rose 2.1 percent (from 3.4 percent in the previous three months) while imports went up 1.4 percent (from 1.3 percent).

Government consumption gained 0.1 percent, the same as in the prior three months. Meanwhile, public investments fell 0.1 percent, much slower than a 3.0 percent fall in Q4 and giving no contribution to growth.

On an annualised basis, the economy expanded 2.2 percent, compared to an upwardly revised 1.4 percent growth in the prior quarter. It was the fifth straight quarter of expansion, driven by continued strength in exports. 




Friday April 28 2017
Japan Jobless Rate Steady At 2.8% In March
Statistics Japan l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

The unemployment rate in Japan stood at 2.8 percent in March of 2017, the same as in a month earlier. The figure came slightly below market consensus of 2.9 percent and remained at its lowest level since June 1994. Meanwhile, the jobs-to-applicants ratio was 1.45, up from 1.43 in the previous three months and marking the highest level since November 1990.

Compared to the previous month, there were 1.84 million unemployed persons, 6 thousand less than in February. Employment increased 13 thousand to 64.96 million. Labour force rose 8 thousand to 66.79 million while those detached from the labour force went down by 11 thousand to 44.24 million.
Among people aged 15 to 24 years old, the jobless rate rose to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent.
A year earlier, employment was at 3.2 percent.




Friday April 28 2017
Japan Inflation Rate At 5-Month Low Of 0.2% In March
Statistics Japan l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Japan rose 0.2 percent year-on-year in March of 2017, compared to a 0.3 percent rise in February and below market consensus of a 0.3 percent gain. It was the lowest inflation rate since October 2016, driven by a slowdown in cost of food and transport while cost of housing fall further.

Year-on-year, prices increased at a slower pace for: food (0.5 percent from 0.8 percent in a month earlier, namely fresh food: -0.4 percent from 1.4 percent), clothes and footwear (0.6 percent from 1.3 percent), medical care (0.5 percent from 0.6 percent) and transportation and communication (0.2 percent from 0.3 percent). Cost went up more than in a month earlier for: culture and recreation (0.7 percent from 0.4 percent) and miscellaneous (0.4 percent from 0.3 percent). In contrast, cost declined for: housing (-0.2 percent from -0.2 percent); fuel, light and water charges (-0.8 percent from -2.1 percent) and furniture and household utensils (-0.8 percent from 0.6 percent). Inflation was steady for education (1.0 percent). 

Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, went up 0.2 percent on the year, the same as in the prior month. It was the third straight month of rise and staying at its highest level since April 2015.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices fell 0.1 percent, following a 0.1 percent drop in February and marking the second straight month of decline.

In Tokyo, consumer prices fell 0.1 percent in April, after a 0.4 percent drop in March while market estimated a 0.2 percent decline. Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, also decreased 0.1 percent from a year earlier, compared to a 0.4 percent fall in the previous month and below consensus of a 0.2 percent drop.


Thursday April 27 2017
BoJ Holds Monetary Policy Steady, Raises GDP Forecast
Bank of Japan | Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

The Bank of Japan left the key interest rate unchanged at -0.1 percent at its April 2017 meeting, as widely expected. Policymakers also decided to maintain its 10-year government bond yield target around zero percent but said they raised their economic growth forecast to 1.6 percent for fiscal 2017 from an earlier projection of an 1.5 percent expansion, due to rising exports.

With regard to the amount of JGBs to be purchased, the Bank will conduct buying at more or less the current pace -- an annual pace of increase of about 80 trillion yen.

The BoJ also determined by a 7-2 vote to purchase exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Japan real estate investment trusts (J-REITs) so that their amounts outstanding will increase at an annual paces of about JPY 6.0 trillion and about JPY 90 billion, respectively. As for CP and corporate bonds, the Bank will maintain their amounts outstanding at about 2.2 trillion yen and about 3.2 trillion yen respectively.  

Meanwhile in a quarterly review of the central bank's forecasts, it said Japan's economy has been turning toward a moderate expansion and overseas economies have continued to grow at a moderate pace. Exports have been on an increasing trend while private consumption has been resilient against the backdrop of steady improvement in the employment and income situation. At the same time, housing investment and public investment have been more or less flat.

Regarding prices, the BoJ lowered slightly its core CPI forecast for fiscal 2017 to 1.4 percent from the previous estimate of 1.5 percent, as cost of some consumer durable goods as well as services have shown somewhat weak developments in recent months. Still, the BoJ maintained its projection that inflation will reach 2 percent around fiscal 2018. 

Excerpts from the Outlook for Economic Activity and Prices:

Domestic demand in Japan is likely to follow an uptrend, with a virtuous cycle from income to spending being maintained in both the household and corporate sectors, on the back of highly accommodative financial conditions and fiscal spending through the government's large scale stimulus measures. Business fixed investment  is likely to continue increasing moderately, supported by accommodative financial consitions, heightened growth expectations and increases in Olympic Games-related demand. Private consumption is expected to follow a moderate increasing trend as employee income continues to improve. Public investment is projected to increase through fiscal 2017, due mainly to the positive effects resulting from a set of stimulus measures and thereafter remain at a relatively high level with Olympic-Games related demand. Exports are expected to follow a moderate increasing trend on the back of an improvement in overseas economies. In fiscal 2019, the pace of expansion in Japan's economy is projected to decelerate, mainly due to a slowdown in domestic demand.

For fiscal 2018, the economy is expected to expand by 1.3 percent, faster than a previous projection of a 1.1 percent growth. Core CPI for the year is projected to stand at 1.7 percent, unchanged from an earlier forecast. 





Thursday April 20 2017
Japan Trade Surplus Narrows 17.5% YoY In March
Ministry of Finance | Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

Japan posted a JPY 614.7 billion trade surplus in March of 2017, smaller than a JPY 744.9 billion surplus a year earlier but above market expectations of a JPY 575.8 billion surplus, as exports rose less than imports.

In March, sales increased by 12.0 percent year-on-year to JPY 7,229.1 billion, compared to a 11.3 percent gain in a month earlier while market expected a 6.7 percent rise. It was the fourth straight month of increase and the fastest since January 2015, as sales went up for all commodities: manufactured goods (10.5 percent, namely iron and steel products: 15.6 percent, non-ferrous metals: 17.5 percent and rubber manufactured: 6.5 percent), machinery (14.0 percent, namely power generating machine: 13.5 percent, parts of computers: 16.3 percent, construction machines: 11.9 percent and heating or cooling machine: 18.9 percent), electrical machinery (10.9 percent, namely semiconductors etc: 7.6 percent, IC: 10.0 percent), electrical power machinery: 17.2 percent, electrical measuring: 13.0 percent and electrical apparatus: 22.9 percent), transport equipment (4.0 percent, namely parts of motor vehicles: 21.2 percent and motorcycles, autocycles: 9.6 percent), others (22.1 percent, namely scientific, optical instruments: 25.5 percent and blank/recorded media: 9.6 percent), chemicals (14.2 percent, namely organic chemicals: 17.5 percent and plastic materials: 12.4 percent), raw materials (24.0 percent), mineral fuels (33.8 percent) and foodstuff (13.9 percent).

Outbound shipments to China rose 16.4 percent (from 28.2 percent in February) and those to the US increased by 3.5 percent (from 0.4 percent). Sales also went up to Western Europe (6.7 percent from 4.2 percent), Oceania (23.9 percent from 23.6 percent), Russia (10.9 percent from 28.2 percent) and Africa (12.7 percent from -13.0 percent). In contrast, exports fell to the Middle East countries (-2.6 percent from -13.5 percent).

Imports jumped 15.8 percent to JPY 6,614.4 billion, following a 1.2 percent growth in the prior month and faster than consensus of a 10.4 percent growth. It was the biggest gain in three years, as purchases rose for all components: foodstuff (12.6 percent), raw materials (15.3 percent), mineral fuels (36.3 percent), chemicals (13.8 percent), manufactured goods (12.9 percent), machinery (6.1 percent), electrical machinery (10.6 percent), transport equipment (9.5 percent) and others (9.2 percent).

In February 2017, the trade surplus came in at JPY 813.4 billion.


Friday March 31 2017
Japan Jobless Rate Lowest Since June 1994
Statistics Japan l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

The jobless rate in Japan declined to 2.8 percent in February of 2017 from 3.0 percent in January and below market expectations of 3.0 percent. It was the lowest inflation figure since June 1994. The jobs-to-applicants ratio was 1.43, the same as in the previous two months and remaining at the highest since July 1991.

Compared to the previous month, there were 1.90 million unemployed persons, 8 thousand less than in January. Employment fell 21 thousand to 64.83 million. Labour force declined by 31 thousand to 66.71 million while those detached from the labour force went up by 31 thousand to 44.35 million.

Among people aged 15 to 24 years old, the jobless rate fell to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent.

A year earlier, employment stood at 3.2 percent.


Friday March 31 2017
Japan Inflation Rate Slows To 0.3% In February
Statistics Japan l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Japan rose 0.3 percent year-on-year in February of 2017, following a 0.4 percent rise in January and in line with market expectations. While prices of food eased sharply, inflation was steady for transport and cost of housing continued to fall.

Year-on-year, prices increased at a slower pace for: food (0.8 percent from 1.8 percent in a month earlier, namely fresh food: 1.4 percent from 8.0 percent), culture and recreation (0.4 percent from 0.9 percent) and miscellaneous (0.3 percent from 0.4 percent). Cost went up more than in a month earlier for: clothes and footwear (1.3 percent from 1.1 percent) and medical care (0.6 percent from 0.5 percent). Cost rebounded for furniture and household utensils (0.6 percent from -0.4 percent). Inflation was steady for transportation and communication (0.3 percent). Prices declined for: housing (-0.2 percent from -0.4 percent) and fuel, light and water charges (-2.1 percent from -5.8 percent).

Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, went up 0.2 percent on the year, compared to a 0.1 percent increase in the prior month. It was the second straight month of rise and the highest since April 2015.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices fell 0.1 percent, compared to a 0.1 percent rise in January.

In Tokyo, consumer prices fell 0.4 percent in March, after a 0.3 percent drop in February and worse than expectations of a 0.2 percent decline. Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, also decreased 0.4 percent from a year earlier, compared to a 0.3 percent fall in the previous month while market estimated a 0.2 percent drop. 


Wednesday March 22 2017
Japan Trade Surplus Jumps 245% YoY In February
Ministry of Finance l Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

Japan recorded a JPY 813.4 billion trade surplus in February of 2017, higher than a JPY 235.5 billion surplus a year earlier and slightly below market expectations of JPY 822 billion. Exports jumped 11.3 percent year-on-year, better than expectations of a 10.6 percent rise and the biggest gain since January of 2015, boosted by sales to China. Imports increased 1.2 percent, also higher than forecasts of a 0.6 percent gain, mainly due to oil.

Exports reached JPY 6346.5 billion, boosted by sales of machinery (16.6 percent), electrical machinery (13.5 percent), chemicals (16.4 percent), parts of motor vehicles (21.8 percent), manufactured goods (6.7 percent) and scientific and optical instruments (23.4 percent). Shipments increased to the US (0.4 percent) and China (28.2 percent).
 
Imports came in at JPY 5533.1 billion, mainly due to mineral fuels (38.1 percent), namely petroleum (69.9 percent). Purchases from main partners decreased: China (-17.7 percent), Western Europe (-7.7 percent), the US (-0.7 percent) and ASEAN countries (-1.5 percent) but rose from the Middle East (46.4 percent).