Japan’s Merchandise Trade Surplus Swings Into Deficit in May

Japan’s trade surplus swung into deficit in May, as imports rose faster than exports.

The Ministry of Finance reported a May merchandise trade deficit of ¥203.4 billion, down from a revised surplus of ¥481.1 billion in April. Analysts in a median estimate called for the surplus to narrow to ¥76 billion. That was the second time this year that Tokyo posted a trade deficit.

Exports rose at an annualized 14.9% in May, following a gain of 7.5% the month before. Meanwhile, imports spiked 17.8% year-over-year after climbing 15.1% the month before.

Analysts expected exports to rise 16.1% and for imports to increase 14.8%.

The Japanese yen traded lower after the release, with the U.S. dollar gaining 0.2% to ¥110.92.

Tokyo posted its first trade surplus in six years in fiscal 2016, as the value of imports declined sharply amid persistently low energy prices. The fiscal surplus stood at ¥4.01 trillion, government data showed in April.

Last week, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) voted to keep its monetary stimulus program intact and raised its outlook on private consumption. The BOJ will release the minutes of its April 26-27 policy meeting on Thursday.

Japan’s longest stretch of economic expansion in more than a decade has provided some support for the central bank, which has held interest rates at -0.1% since the beginning of last year.

Sam Bourgi is a financial market analyst for economiccalendar.com. He has more than six years of progressive experience in economic and financial analysis, research consulting and sectoral analysis. As a published author in government, peer-reviewed, online and industry sources, he has developed a fundamental approach to the financial markets with a broad focus on stock indices, commodities and the technology sector. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Windsor and Master’s degree from McMaster University.