Japan's exports appear to have made a substantial recovery. From Bloomberg on Monday:
Japan’s current-account surplus widened for a fifth month in December as demand from Asia helped exports advance for the first time in more than a year.
The surplus rose to 901 billion yen ($10 billion) from a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance said in Tokyo today. Exports rose 11.7 percent, the first advance in 15 months, while weak demand at home caused imports to fall 6 percent.
The export recovery took a small step back in December though.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the current-account surplus narrowed to 1.101 trillion yen in December. Exports fell 0.2 percent from November, and imports climbed 1.5 percent.
Of greater concern is the continuing fall in bank lending.
The export recovery has yet to spur spending by companies and consumers at home. A Bank of Japan report today showed bank lending fell 1.7 percent in January from a year earlier, the biggest drop in more than four years, in part because of waning corporate demand for loans.
Still, leading indicators show that the recovery is likely to be sustained. From Bloomberg last week:
Japan’s broadest indicator of economic health rose for a ninth month in December as growth in Asia spurred factory output.
The coincident index, a composite of 11 indicators including industrial production and retail sales, gained to 97.6 from 96 a month earlier, the Cabinet Office said today in Tokyo. The median estimate of nine economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for an advance to 97.3...
The leading index, a gauge of economic conditions in three to six months, rose to 94 in December from a revised 91 in November, today’s report showed.
And from Reuters on Monday:
Japan's service sector sentiment index rose to 38.8 in January, a Cabinet Office survey showed on Monday ... from 35.4 in December...
The outlook index, indicating the level of confidence in future conditions, rose to 41.9 from 36.3 in December.