Japan's current account surplus expands to 10-year high in 1st half of year

BY  | FROM  | 2017-08-09 13:38

Japan's current account surplus expanded to the highest level since 2007 in the January-June period, on recovering earnings from overseas investments and against a backdrop of rising prices for crude oil impacting the value of overall imports, the government said Tuesday.

According to a preliminary report from the finance ministry, in the January-June period the surplus totaled 10.51 trillion yen (95 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 0.3 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The ministry said the surplus in the primary income account increased 2.2 percent to 9.76 trillion yen, aided in part by a comparatively soft yen against the U.S. dollar.

The primary income account serves to show how much Japan has made from the investments it has made overseas.

Japan's trade surplus contracted 11.7 percent to 2.05 trillion yen, however, the ministry's latest data showed Tuesday.

This was due to rising prices for crude oil, as Japan remains heavily dependent on energy imports from overseas, due to the majority of its nuclear power plants still being shuttered amid safety fears after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The finance ministry, in addition, said that overall imports climbed 11.8 percent to 35.25 trillion yen in the recording period, while exports were up 10.1 percent to 37.31 trillion yen.

The travel surplus, the ministry added, swelled to 790.3 billion yen, marking a record high for the January-June period.

This compares to 727.7 billion yen booked a year earlier, and is owing to Japan's continued robust patronage from overseas visitors to the country.

The service sector, meanwhile, including passenger transportation and cargo shipping, booked a deficit of 297.4 billion yen, the ministry's data also showed.

Japan logged a current account surplus in the month of June alone marking the 36th successive month of black ink, the finance ministry said in its preliminary report.

According to the ministry, the current account surplus in the recording month stood at 934.6 billion yen (8.43 billion U.S. dollars).

Within the key components comprising the current account, goods trade booked a surplus of 518.5 billion yen, the ministry said.

Japan's current account surplus is one of the broadest measure of its trade with the rest of the world.

The data is keenly eyed by the Bank of Japan and the finance ministry ahead of new potential policy changes or monetary easing or tapering measures.

In Japan the current account surplus increases the nation's net foreign assets by the corresponding amount, and a current account deficit does the reverse.

Both the Japanese government and private payments are included in the calculation and it is called the current account because goods and services are generally consumed in the current period.

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