TOKYO: Japan’s trade deficit more than halved year on year in January, helped by stronger exports and lower oil prices, official data showed Thursday.
The shortfall shrank to 1.18 trillion yen ($9.9 billion) from the year before figure of 2.8 trillion yen, which was the worst record for a single month, the finance ministry said.
That extended the run of shortfalls to the 31st straight month but it was smaller than market expectations for a 1.68 trillion yen deficit.
Overall exports rose 17.0 percent to 6.14 trillion yen with robust shipments of cars and electronic parts while imports fell 9.0 percent to 7.32 trillion yen.
Purchases of natural gas remained high to plug the resources-poor country’s energy gap after the 2011 Fukushima crisis forced the shutdown of nuclear reactors, which once supplied a third of the nation’s power.
A lower yen has pushed up import costs but lower oil prices helped Japan narrow its deficits.
January crude oil imports tumbled 40.5 percent in value.