Japan posts longest run of trade deficits
Japan posted its longest run of trade deficits in three decades as exports fell in February, underscoring challenges for Bank of Japan (8301) Governor Haruhiko Kuroda in reviving the world’s third-biggest economy.
Shipments dropped 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the Finance Ministry said in Tokyo today. The median estimate of 22 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 1.7 percent decrease. Imports rose 11.9 percent, leaving a trade shortfall of 777.5 billion yen ($8.1 billion).
Kuroda is scheduled to give his first press conference from 6 p.m. in Tokyo today, with news from Bank of Japan briefings usually embargoed until after they finish. The new central bank chief has pledged more aggressive monetary easing that may further weaken a yen down about 10 percent against the dollar this year, a move that’s already swelling the nation’s import bill as nuclear-plant shutdowns force bigger imports of fossil fuels.
“There’s a time lag until the weakening yen will push up exports,” said Yoshimasa Maruyama, chief economist at Itochu Corp. in Tokyo, who said that imports of oil and liquefied natural gas drove the biggest gain in inbound shipments since October 2011. February’s deficit was the eighth consecutive monthly trade shortfall, the longest stretch since 1980. The yen strengthened 0.6 percent to 95.41 per dollar as of 6:37 p.m. in Tokyo.