Japan’s current account surplus in November plunged 31 percent from a year earlier to 809.7 billion yen, marking the 10th consecutive month of year-on-year decline, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report released Thursday.
Exports rose for the first time in 14 months, but imports grew more than exports. The shrinking surplus trend is expected to continue for the time being, a ministry official said.
The current account balance is the difference between a country’s income from foreign sources and foreign obligations payable, excluding net capital investment.
The surplus in merchandise trade — exports minus imports — dropped 22.7 percent, making it the biggest factor behind the current account balance.
Exports increased 4.7 per cent, partly due to a surge in semiconductor exports to the rest of Asia. Imports jumped 16.2 percent, reflecting a 49.9 percent rise in crude oil prices on a yen basis.
The yen averaged 104.96 to the dollar in the month, higher than the 120.58 recorded a year earlier. A stronger yen can be a factor in reducing Japanese exports in the long run by raising their prices abroad and thus making them less competitive.
The services deficit shrank to 420.3 billion yen, down 22.7 billion yen, mainly because of a decrease in the deficit on miscellaneous trade-related services.
As a result, the trade surplus in goods and services combined amounted to 399.1 billion yen, down 35.3 percent. It was the sharpest year-on-year decline since August, when the surplus plunged 61.5 percent.

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