Japan April trade deficit up as energy costs rise

Japan recorded a bigger-than-expected trade deficit in April, official data showed Wednesday, as higher energy costs hiked imports while shipments to China -- its biggest market -- fell from a year ago.

The country posted a monthly deficit of 520.3 billion yen ($6.5 billion), the finance ministry said, up from 477.7 billion yen a year ago and the highest ever for April.

Japan has switched off its nuclear reactors following last year's quake-tsunami disaster, which sparked the worst atomic crisis in a generation and pounded the world's third-largest economy.

The policy has forced the resource-poor nation to turn to pricey fossil fuel alternatives, helping to push up April imports, which rose 8.0 percent to 6.09 trillion yen.

Exports also rose in the period, up 7.9 percent from a year earlier to 5.57 trillion yen, boosted by shipments of automobiles and vehicle parts, with US-bound trade jumping from a year earlier.

The deficit, the second straight year-on-year monthly shortfall, was bigger than analyst expectations of 470 billion yen and Hideki Matsumura, senior economist at the Japan Research Institute, said weakening exports to China were a concern.

Japan had a 274.2 billion yen trade deficit with its Asian neighbour, which overtook it as the world's second-biggest economy in 2010, as exports fell 7.1 percent, the seventh consecutive month of year-on-year drops.

Concerns over China's slowing growth have intensified after a recent slew of weak economic data, including a report that showed output from the country's millions of factories and workshops hit a near three-year low in April.

"Looking forward, the growth in exports will depend on overseas economies... and exports may continue to weaken," Matsumura told Dow Jones Newswires.

Japan saw a trade surplus of 425.8 billion yen with the United States, a 165 percent year-on-year increase as the world's biggest economy mounts a lumbering recovery.

But shipments to debt-hit Europe, another key market for Japanese products, fell 1.9 percent while imports from the continent were 4.2 percent lower.

Analysts have said that high prices for liquefied natural gas and rising imports in Japan, beset by a rapidly ageing population and shrinking manufacturing sector, were likely to generate trade deficits throughout 2012.

On Tuesday, Fitch cut Japan's credit rating, citing its massive public debt, and warned of another possible downgrade if Japan does not hasten its bid to reduce it.

Japan's national debt stands at more than twice its gross domestic product -- the highest such ratio among industrialised nations.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington will never be deterred by "acts of violence" as the ambassador was rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. In a brief …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options