Japan enjoys fifth straight current account surplus on weaker yen

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan posted a current account surplus for the fifth consecutive month in November as a weaker yen helped boost repatriated returns on foreign investment, official data showed Tuesday.

Japan logged a surplus of 433.0 billion yen (S$4.86 billion) in the current account, reversing a deficit of 596.9 billion yen a year earlier, the finance ministry said.

The current account is the broadest measure of the country's trade with the rest of the world, measuring not only trade in goods but also services, tourism and returns on foreign investment.

In November, Japan's deficit in merchandise trade shrank sharply, helped by higher exports and falling oil bills.

Overall income, meanwhile, improved with higher gains from equity and other direct investment, as well as from investment in financial items, data showed.

The rise was inflated by a weaker yen, the consequence of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pro-spending policy and the Bank of Japan's massive monetary easing.

"On the back of the weak yen and the steady global economy, Japan's investment income overseas is expanding remarkably," said Daiki Takahashi, economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo.

"The nation's trade deficit is also shrinking partially thanks to a drop in oil prices," Takahashi said. "Japan is likely to continue enjoying a current account surplus for now."