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Japan posts lower-than-expected trade deficit in November

Japan recorded a lower-than-expected trade deficit in November as a sharp fall in imports slightly offset the 12th straight month of decline in exports, provisional customs data showed

The country's trade deficit came in at ¥82.08 billion in November, compared with a deficit of ¥739.10 billion in the year-ago period and a revised surplus of ¥15.66 billion in October. The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for a November deficit of ¥380 billion.

Exports declined for the 12th straight month, recording a 7.9% year-over-year fall to ¥6.382 trillion and exceeding the Econoday consensus forecast of a 7.1% drop. Imports, meanwhile, declined 15.7% to ¥6.464 trillion, compared with expectations of a 13.6% fall.

Japan's exports to the U.S. fell 12.9% to ¥1.212 trillion, while imports dropped 10.3% to 688.41 billion, yielding a trade surplus of ¥523.21 billion, down 16.1% from the year-ago period. A trade deal between the countries that would cut tariffs on billions of dollars of American agricultural imports is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The country's trade with China resulted in a deficit of ¥268.02 billion, as exports fell 5.4% to ¥1.310 trillion and imports dropped 16.4% to ¥1.578 trillion. Japan's trade surplus with South Korea plummeted 27.2% to ¥105.64 billion, with exports declining 17% to ¥389.64 billion and imports decreasing by 12.5% to ¥284.00 billion.

As of Dec. 17, US$1 was equivalent to ¥109.53.