• Kyodo

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Japan reported a current account surplus of ¥1.94 trillion ($17.6 billion) in May, marking the 47th straight month of black ink thanks to a surge in returns on foreign investments, government data showed Monday.

The surplus in the current account — one of the widest measures of international trade — widened 14.5 percent from a year earlier despite registering a deficit in goods trade for the first time since January.

Goods trade had a deficit of ¥304 billion, up nearly three-fold from a year prior, as rising imports outpaced an increase in exports, according to a preliminary report released by the Finance Ministry.

Imports were up 13.7 percent to ¥6.63 trillion, due in part to higher crude oil prices and an upswing in demand for foreign-made aviation equipment, while exports rose 10.6 percent to ¥6.32 trillion amid strong demand for manufacturing equipment for the tech industry.

Japan saw a services trade surplus of ¥42 billion as a continuing influx of visitors from overseas lifted the travel surplus to ¥211 billion, the largest figure on record for May.

Meanwhile, primary income, which reflects how much the country earns from overseas investments, registered a surplus of ¥2.4 trillion, up 23.2 percent.

That jump was part of a continuing trend, although a ministry official said there was also a one-time boost from an unnamed company that saw a surge in dividends from an overseas subsidiary.

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