Thursday, 22 March 2012

Japan's trade balance returns to surplus, manufacturers' sentiment improves

Japan achieved an unexpected trade surplus in February. Reuters reports:

Japan's exports fell 2.7 percent in February from a year earlier, Ministry of Finance data showed on Thursday, smaller than economists' median forecast of a 6.4 percent annual decline and following a 9.3 percent drop in the year to January.

The trade balance came to a surplus of 32.9 billion yen ($393 million), the first surplus in five months, compared with the median market estimate for a 120 billion yen deficit. The country posted its biggest ever trade deficit of 1.475 trillion yen in January...

Imports rose 9.2 percent in February from a year earlier, against a forecast for an 8.4 percent increase.

In another positive piece of news on Japan, Reuters reports an improvement in the mood of Japanese manufacturers.

In the Reuters Tankan, the manufacturers' sentiment index, derived by subtracting the percentage of pessimistic responses from optimistic ones, rose 13 points to plus 2, the biggest monthly gain since June 2009 and is seen flat at plus 2 in three months time...

The index for non-manufacturers stayed flat at plus 5 and is expected to improve to plus 9 in June, underpinned by sectors such as construction and real estate that could benefit from reconstruction-related demand.

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