Japan''s trade surplus widens to $7.7 billion as November exports risenews
21 December 2006

Mumbai: Japan's trade surplus widened to ¥915.9 billion ($7.7 billion) from ¥594.4 billion a year ago with an unexpected acceleration of export growth in November.

Exports rose 12.1 per cent while import growth slowed to 7.5 per cent, easing concerns of any hitch in the steady expansion of the world's second-largest economy, Japan's ministry of finance said in Tokyo.

Exports gained from the yen's decline against the dollar and the euro while a decline in oil prices aided the import fall. A lower yen also helped reduce the effects of slower overseas demand and bolster exports.

Exports to the US climbed 8.6 per cent, the slowest in five months. Shipments to the European Union accelerated to 12.9 per cent from 8.7 per cent. Exports to China quickened to 19.5 per cent from 18.3 per cent.

The yen is trading about seven per cent below the average rate last year, making Toyota cars and other Japanese goods cheaper abroad.

The US economy, the destination of more than a fifth of Japanese exports, grew at a slower 2.2 per cent annual pace in the third quarter, while growth in the 12 nations that share the euro slowed to 0.5 per cent last quarter.

However, an unexpected surge in German business confidence in December to the highest since 1990, helped fuel demand for shipments of fuel-efficient automobiles, which drove more than half of Japan's export gains in the first six months of the year.

Toyota, Japan's largest automaker, said its exports advanced 19.7 per cent in October.

Japanese shipments abroad grew at a six-month low in October amidst concern that the economy would stall amid sluggish consumer spending at home as well.

Overall, exports climbed more than the 9 per cent on an average during the year while import of raw oil products fell for the first time since May 2004.

Prices of Dubai crude, a benchmark for Asian refiners, slid by a fifth since reaching a record $72.10 a barrel in July.

Japan's economy expanded an annual 0.8 per cent in the third quarter gaining from a strong export growth and corporate spending on factories and equipment.

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Japan''s trade surplus widens to $7.7 billion as November exports rise