Japan exports in November show signs of recovery as yen tumbles

Large cranes are seen at sunset at a container terminal in Tokyo, Japan on Dec 8, 2016.
Large cranes are seen at sunset at a container terminal in Tokyo, Japan on Dec 8, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's exports in November fell at a slower pace as a rapid decline in the yen and a recovery in overseas demand boosted shipments from the trade sector.

Ministry of Finance (MOF) data showed on Monday (Dec 19) that exports fell 0.4 per cent in the year to November. That compares with the 2.0 per cent annual decline expected by economists in a Reuters poll, and follows a 10.3 per cent decline in the year to October.

The value of exports to China, Japan's largest trading partner, rose an annual 4.4 per cent, the first increase in nine months.

In terms of volume, exports in November rose 7.4 per cent from a year ago, more than a 1.4 per cent annual decline in the previous month in a sign that external demand is picking up.

The data is likely to offer encouragement to the Bank of Japan, which is leaning toward upgrading its economic outlook at a meeting ending Dec 20 because officials are becoming increasingly confident that global trade is emerging from the doldrums, four sources said.

Exports fell in November at a slower pace, because the value of car and steel shipments declined less than the previous month, the data showed.

The yen tumbled by 8.4 per cent in November as expectations for US interest rate hikes sparked a rally in the dollar, which pushed up the yen value of Japan's exports.

The yen has fallen further this month, and is now within distance of a 10-month low.

Exports to the United States, in terms of value, fell 1.8 per cent year-on-year versus an 11.2 per cent annual decline in October.

Imports fell an annual 8.8 per cent versus the median estimate of a 12.6 per cent fall.

The trade balance came to a surplus 152.5 billion yen (S$1.87 billion), versus the median estimate for a 227.4 billion yen surplus.