Japan’s exports probably rose at the fastest pace in two years in February thanks to a softer yen and improving global demand, a Reuters poll showed. But uncertainty over possible trade protectionist moves by the US is still clouding recovery prospects for the world’s third-largest economy.
Exports have jumped 10.6 percent in February from a year earlier, which would be the biggest gain since January 2015 when they rose 16.9 percent. The numbers were likely flattered by a rebound in Asian demand, after Japan’s shipments slowed in January due to the long Lunar New Year holidays in China and other parts of the region. Shipments had edged up 1.3 percent in January.
Imports likely rose 0.6 percent from a year earlier, slowing sharply from growth of 8.5 percent in January, which marked their first increase in two years. That is expected to produce a trade surplus of 822 billion yen ($7.25 billion), compared with a deficit of nearly 1.09 trillion yen in January, the poll of 20 analysts showed.
“You need to average out exports in January and February to assess the trend considering the impact from the Lunar New Year holidays,” said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Research Institute (DRI). “Still, there is a chance that an average of exports in January and February surpassed that of October-December. And data next week will be something to confirm exports stayed on a recovery trend as the manufacturing sector is picking up globally.”—Agencies