Japan’s exports rose at a slower pace in October, offering little extra support as the nation’s economy tries to avoid a technical recession in the second half.

The value of exports gained 1.6% from a year earlier, slowing from a 4.3% increase in the previous month, the Finance Ministry reported Thursday. Economists had forecast a 1% increase. Shipments were pushed up by a solid gain in cars, especially to the U.S., but gains were limited by continued double-digit declines in chip-making gear exports.

Imports slipped 12.5% largely on the back of falling energy-related purchases. Still, the trade balance swung back to a deficit of ¥662.5 billion ($4.4 billion).