• Kyodo

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Japan posted a current account surplus of ¥833.4 billion in October, the fourth straight month of black ink as income from foreign investment soared to a record high and outweighed a huge trade deficit, the government said Monday.

Exports surged 11.2 percent from a year earlier to ¥6.57 trillion on the back of stronger car shipments, while imports rose 7.4 percent to ¥7.33 trillion due partly to rising purchases of communications devices from other nations. It brought the goods trade deficit to ¥766.6 billion, the Finance Ministry said.

The surplus in the primary income account, which reflects how much Japan earns from its foreign investments, jumped 48.3 percent to ¥2.02 trillion, up for the fourth consecutive month, with the yen’s slide helping to increase dividends from foreign direct investment, the ministry said in a preliminary report.

The income surplus was the largest for October since comparative data become available in 1985, it said.

The current account surplus is expected to widen as a downturn in global oil prices may ease the negative impact of energy import expansion triggered by the suspension of nuclear power generation following the March 2011 Fukushima emergency, some analysts said.

Crude oil import costs were down 10.8 percent from the previous year in October, as average oil prices fell 11.3 percent to $100.7 per barrel, the Finance Ministry said.

Other economists, however, said the sharp depreciation of the yen is likely to slow the pace of improvement in the current account balance of resource-poor Japan.

The yen declined versus the dollar by 10.4 percent year-on-year in October to an average of 108.06, and against the euro by 2.7 percent to 136.97, the ministry said.

A falling yen usually supports exports by making Japanese products cheaper abroad and boosts the value of overseas revenues in yen terms, though it pushes up import prices. Japan depends on imports for more than 90 percent of its energy needs and 60 percent of its food supply.

Amid expectations that the interest rate gap between Japan and the United States will widen further, the yen has remained on a downward trend. The dollar rose above ¥121 late last week for the first time in over seven years, skyrocketing from the mid-¥102 range in early August.

In October, the services sector, including passenger transportation and cargo shipping, registered a deficit of ¥216.5 billion.

The travel balance of payments, meanwhile, improved to a surplus of ¥8.7 billion as the number of foreign travelers arriving in Japan rose 37.0 percent from a year before to 1.27 million, the biggest for a single month since 1964.

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