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The nation’s current account surplus soared 53.1 percent in July from a year earlier to 1.351 trillion yen, the Finance Ministry said Monday.

It was the 16th consecutive monthly expansion of the broadest gauge of trade in goods and services as well as some unilateral transfers.

The increase was mainly attributed to a 39.9 percent increase in the merchandise trade surplus, which came to 1.475 trillion yen. The domestic economic slump and lower oil prices pushed imports down while the booming economies of the United States and Europe helped increase exports, a senior ministry official said.

Falling prices of crude oil probably will continue to be a factor for an expanded current account surplus, a ministry official said. But the pace of increase will depend on the effects of Japan’s economic stimulus measures and volatile foreign exchange rates, the official added.

Exports rose 5.9 percent to 4.403 trillion yen, with automobiles up 10.7 percent in value terms but down 3.3 percent in volume. Electronic parts such as semiconductors fell 6 percent and loading machines were down 17.8 percent.

Imports declined 5.6 percent to 2.929 trillion yen, with airplanes up 42.5 percent and clothing up 8.3 percent. Wooden products decreased 43.2 percent and crude oil, which rose 5.8 percent in volume, slipped 12 percent in value. Crude oil prices dropped 32 percent from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the deficit in services trade fell 17.8 billion yen to 573.3 billion yen, mainly because deficits in both transport and travel shrank. The number of people who left Japan dropped 4.3 percent and their average spending slipped 0.2 percent.

But the deficit in other services, including information-related operations, expanded 19.4 billion yen to 200 billion yen.

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