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Japan’s current account surplus jumped 88.0 percent in April from a year earlier, providing fresh evidence that robust growth in exports is helping the economy recover from a deep slump, Finance Ministry data showed Tuesday.

The current account balance — the broadest gauge of trade in goods and services — logged a surplus of ¥1.2421 trillion, staying in the black for the 15th consecutive month, the ministry said in a preliminary report.

The balance of trade in goods and services posted a surplus of ¥433.6 billion compared with a deficit of ¥260.9 billion a year before.

“The (current account) surplus will continue to improve primarily on the back of steady growth in the trade surplus,” said Norio Miyagawa, a senior economist at the Shinko Research Institute.

Casting a cloud over the prospects, however, is the yen’s appreciation against the euro amid sovereign debt woes in Europe. The yen’s rise could erode overseas earnings of Japanese firms when repatriated.

The debt debacle could also have an impact on China’s exports to Europe, which may subsequently affect Japan’s exports to China, a key destination that has served as a driving force for Japan’s recent recovery, Miyagawa said.

In goods trade, the surplus expanded slightly more than fivefold to ¥859.1 billion.

Exports climbed 42.7 percent to ¥5.5771 trillion for the fifth straight month of expansion, while imports rose 26.1 percent to ¥4.718 trillion, growing for the fourth consecutive month.

Exports to the rest of Asia and the United States were bullish, with automobiles and semiconductors in particular posting considerable increases, according to the ministry.

Imports from China and the Middle East enjoyed growth, and increases were seen in such items as nonferrous metals and liquefied natural gas.

The deficit in services trade, which includes payments for transport and tourism, shrank by ¥2.5 billion from a year earlier to ¥425.5 billion. The balance logged the first deficit in two months.

Foreigners opt to sell

Foreign investors sold Japanese shares worth ¥954.8 billion on a net basis in May, the first net sale in six months, as the deepening fiscal crisis in Greece spooked stock markets worldwide, the Finance Ministry said Tuesday.

Nonresident investors became net sellers of medium- and long-term Japanese bonds for the first time in two months, offloading ¥68.4 billion of such securities, according to the ministry.

Investors in Japan posted non-Japanese stock purchases of ¥742.3 billion in net, the first such buying in two months, as banks boosted their holdings.

They also bought ¥1.5 trillion of medium- and long-term bonds outside Japan, a net purchase for the fifth month in a row.

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