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Japan posts surprise September trade deficit as exports fall more than expected

Japan unexpectedly recorded a trade deficit in September as exports declined more than expected and for the 10th straight month, provisional data from the Ministry of Finance showed.

The trade deficit reached ¥122.98 billion in September, narrowing from a revised deficit of ¥143.53 billion recorded in August, but missing the consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday of a ¥54.0 billion surplus.

Exports fell 5.2% on a yearly basis to ¥6.368 trillion in September, more than the Econoday consensus estimate of a 3.7% drop. Imports declined 1.5% to ¥6.491 trillion, compared with the consensus estimate of a 2.8% fall.

Exports to China fell 6.7% year over year to ¥1.177 trillion, while imports dropped 1.0% to ¥1.618 trillion, logging a trade deficit of ¥441.07 billion. Exports to the U.S. fell 7.9% to ¥1.187 trillion, while imports dropped 11.6% to ¥623.28 trillion, booking a surplus of ¥564.12 billion.

Meanwhile, exports to South Korea dropped 15.9% to ¥402.78 billion, while imports fell 8.9% to ¥251.31 billion.

As of Oct. 18, US$1 was equivalent to ¥108.52.