Friday provided more evidence that China's economy continues to grow strongly.
China's exports jumped 25.0 percent in January from a year ago while imports surged 28.8 percent. Part of the increase was due to the previous year's Lunar New Year but even after adjusting for that, exports were 12.4 percent higher.
China’s new local-currency lending was 1.07 trillion yuan in January compared with 738.1 billion yuan a year ago. M2 money supply climbed 15.9 percent from a year earlier.
Inflation slowed though to 2.0 percent in January from 2.5 percent in December.
Unlike China, Japan's trade balance has been deteriorating. Its current account surplus last year shrank to the lowest in almost three decades after consecutive monthly deficits in the last two months of the year.
The good news for Japan, though, is that service sector sentiment improved in January. The Cabinet Office's economy watchers survey showed that the index for current conditions rose to 49.5 last month from 45.8 in December while the future conditions index jumped to 56.5 from 51.0.
Germany's trade performance has proven more resilient than Japan's recently. Germany's trade surplus for 2012 was the second highest in more than 60 years. Exports rose 0.3 percent in December while imports fell 1.3 percent.
Meanwhile, the US trade deficit shrank in December as oil exports helped overall exports rise 2.1 percent. Imports fell 2.7 percent.