Japan extends trade deficits as surging imports outrun exports

Japan extends trade deficits as surging imports outrun exports

TOKYO, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Japan’s imports surged in November, outpacing exports and resulting in the 16th straight month of trade deficits, as the spectre of a global slowdown added to the country’s worsening terms of trade.

Imports rose 30.3% year-on-year in November, versus the 27.0% increase expected by economists and a 53.5% jump in October, Ministry of Finance (MOF) data showed on Thursday. The surge was a record for the month of November and led by crude oil, coal and liquefied natural gas.

In comparison, exports grew 20% year-on-year in November, matching economists’ median estimates and slowing from a 25.3% gain in October, led by U.S. demand for automobiles and mining machinery and bringing in a trade deficit of 2 trillion yen ($14.76 billion).

A sharp slowdown in exports to China, the world’s second-largest economy and Japan’s largest trading partner, likely fuelled worries about risks to the trade sector and the broader global economy.

The yen’s 28.5% depreciation to the dollar helped push up import bills, boosting living costs, while slowing export growth has raised the spectre of global recession down the road.

That may ease pressure on yen weakness due to prospects for a slowdown in the pace of U.S. rate hikes, although Japan’s central bank is expected to continue easy money policy, making it an outlier of the global trend towards normalisation.

A breakdown of the trade data showed Japan’s exports to China rose 3.5% year-on-year in November, dragged by falling demand for chip-making machinery and autoparts, and slowing from the prior month’s 7.7% gain.

($1 = 135.5100 yen)

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Sam Holmes

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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