Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Japan Has Surprise Trade Deficit in May on Energy Import Jump


"The main scenario is Japan's exports will continue to recover", said Shuji Tonouchi, senior market economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

May data showed "a correction in speed" but the Japanese economy is likely to continue to expand in the July-September quarter even if it stalls in April-June, he said.

Japan will on Monday release May figures for imports, exports and trade balance, highlighting a light day for Asia-Pacific economic activity.

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Exports were up 14.9 percent on year, shy of expectations for a gain of 16.0 percent following the 7.5 percent gain in the previous month.

Larger shipments of flat panels and semiconductor manufacturing equipment drove the gains in China-bound exports.

Exports to China jumped 23.9 percent to 1.12 trillion yen while imports were up 9.6 percent to 1.43 trillion yen, leading to a 311.84 billion yen trade deficit.

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Exports to the United States climbed 11.6% to 1.082 trillion yen, while exports to the European Union spiked 19.8% to 692.368 billion yen.

"You can say domestic demand is doing well, but this is being driven more by the manufacturing sector", said Hidenobu Tokuda, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute.

Strong exports have buoyed Japan's moderate but stable growth. In the first three months of 2017, the economy grew an annualized 1.0%, to extend Japan's growth streak to the longest in 11 years.

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