Japan said March 23 its trade balance had swung back into surplus in February after the first deficit for five years in January as exports soared thanks to a strong global economy and a weaker yen. Providing further evidence that the world's number two economy is finally emerging from its deflation doldrums, a separate government survey showed Tokyo land prices snapped a 15-year losing streak in 2005.
Japan's trade account showed a surplus of 955.7 billion yen (US$8.5 billion) in February, 11.8 % lower than a year ago, the finance ministry said. The improvement, which was short of market expectations for a 1.11 trillion yen surplus, fanned optimism that Japan's economy is on a firm path to recovery after a slump stretching back over a decade.
In February, exports to the U.S. rose 16.1% from a year earlier, with vehicles up 21%. Exports to the rest of Asia rose 22% to give a trade surplus of 757.5 billion yen in February after a deficit of 165.6 billion yen in January.
Rising exports are being accompanied by a pick-up in corporate and consumer spending although soaring energy costs are hurting the Japanese economy, which gets most of its oil and coal from overseas.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006