Japan exports, imports surge in sign of renewed vigor

Andrew Cummings
April 21, 2017

Resource-scarce Japan relies on imports of oil and gas, mostly from the Middle East, to light its cities and power its factories. Easing tensions over North Korea helped brighten the mood after weeks of jitters over the USA response to Pyongyang's missile tests and nuclear weapons program. Exports of other machinery jumped 14 percent. Germany's DAX was steady at 12,020.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed 0.2 percent to 2,338.17 and the Dow Jones industrial average gave up 0.6 percent, to 20,404.49.

OIL PRICES: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 14 cents to $50.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Exports to the U.S. added an annual 3.5% to 1.353 trillion yen, and exports to the European Union gained 1.4% to 800.932 billion yen.

"Exports look pretty good, and we expect this to contribute to growth this year", said Hidenobu Tokuda, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute. Brent crude, used to price global oils, jumped 20 cents to $53.13 a barrel. US crude futures climbed 0.22 percent to $50.55 a barrel, after posting a near 4 percent drop overnight, the biggest one-day decline since March 8.

Japan's exports rose 12 per cent in March from a year earlier, marking the fourth straight month of gains due to strengthening global demand, Ministry of Finance data showed on Thursday.

TOKYO-Japanese exports rose more sharply than expected in March, as overseas demand continues to make up for lackluster domestic consumption to fuel the economy's recovery.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "The upshot is that net trade should have provided another boost to Q1 GDP growth", Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.1 per cent after declining 0.5 per cent in early trades. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 0.9 percent to 24,029.53 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 advanced 0.3 percent to 5,821.40.

The dollar failed to capitalise on higher United States yields with the greenback hugging the 200-day moving average of around 108.85 against the Japanese yen as traders preferred to trade on market technicals rather than take fresh bets.

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