• Kyodo News


The current account surplus in June dropped 18.2 percent from a year earlier, falling for the second month in a row as an increase in exports failed to offset a steep decline in income surplus stemming from the yen’s rise and low interest rates worldwide, government data showed Monday.

The current account balance — the broadest gauge of trade in goods and services — came to a surplus of ¥1.047 trillion, registering the 17th straight monthly surplus, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.

The figure missed a median market forecast of ¥1.274 trillion.

For the first six months of 2010, the current account surplus amounted to ¥8.526 trillion, up 47.3 percent from the same period last year, with the goods trade surplus shooting up more than six-fold, buoyed by robust exports of such items as automobiles to the United States and Asia.

It was the first surplus expansion during the January-June first half in three years.

In June alone, the surplus in the income account, covering such items as returns from Japanese overseas investments, dwindled 46.0 percent to ¥462.1 billion as income from dividend payments fell due to sluggish performance at subsidiaries and interest on bonds declined amid low interest rates, a ministry official said.

The recent appreciation of the yen has also eroded corporate income from overseas units, economists said.

Against this backdrop, the income surplus will likely continue its downtrend for a while, said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at the Norinchukin Research Institute.

Some economists also voiced concern that growth in Japan’s exports will decelerate amid recently emerging signs that the economies in the United States and China, Japan’s key export destinations, are slowing.

But Minami said that because imports are expected to soften amid weak demand in Japan, “the trade balance will likely maintain a steady surplus” for months to come, helping the current account surplus expand, albeit moderately.

In June, the balance of trade in goods and services posted a surplus of ¥658.8 billion, up 35.4 percent.

Exports climbed 29.2 percent to ¥5.563 trillion for the seventh straight month of expansion, while imports jumped 29.6 percent to ¥4.794 trillion, rising for the sixth consecutive month.

The deficit in services trade, which includes payments for transport and tourism, shrank ¥10.6 billion from a year earlier to ¥110.2 billion.

For the January-June period, the balance of trade in goods and services came to a surplus of ¥3.262 trillion, compared with a deficit of ¥358.6 billion in the same period last year.

The surplus in goods trade totaled ¥4.06 trillion, soaring 527.5 percent.

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