A trade deficit is not something you normally associate with Japan, but it happens now and then. From Reuters:
Japan logged a monthly trade deficit for the first time in five years in January as high oil prices boosted imports and the Lunar New Year dampened shipments to Asia, now Japan's largest export market.
Japan's trade balance fell to a deficit of 348.9 billion yen ($2.95 billion) in January from a surplus of 914.0 billion yen in December, Ministry of Finance data showed on Thursday. That compared with a consensus forecast of a 100 billion yen deficit...
Exports rose 13.5 percent from a year earlier to 5.01 trillion yen, while imports rose 27.0 percent to 5.36 trillion yen...
Seasonally adjusted, the trade balance was a surplus of 572.26 billion yen, down from 587.86 billion yen in December.
Economists are not too concerned about the January trade balance as other indicators show that economic growth will be sustained, continued deflationary pressure notwithstanding.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said its tertiary sector index, which gauges activity in the broadly defined services industry, rose 0.2 percent in December from the previous month to mark its highest level on record... The all-industries index, which covers a broader range of economic activity and includes the tertiary index, rose 0.4 percent from the previous month, also scaling a record high.
Separately, the Bank of Japan said its domestic corporate services price index (CSPI) fell 0.8 percent in January from the previous month [and] was down 0.1 percent from a year earlier.
Things are also looking up in Germany. From Bloomberg:
The Ifo confidence index, based on a monthly survey of 7,000 companies, jumped to 103.3 from 101.8 in January. Economists expected the index to dip to 101.5, according to the median of 20 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. German consumer confidence rose to an 11-month high, the GfK research company said today.
And in the US, initial jobless claims fell last week. From Reuters:
First-time claims for state unemployment aid dropped to 278,000 in the week ended February 18 from an upwardly revised 298,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said. The number remained under 300,000 for the sixth straight week, the longest stretch in more than five years... The four-week moving average of initial claims...fell to 281,750 from 283,250...
In a separate report that gauges change in the supply of jobs, the Conference Board, a private business research group, said its help-wanted index slipped to 37 in January from 38 in December.