• Kyodo

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The country’s current account surplus expanded 15.7% in October from a year earlier to ¥2.14 trillion ($20 billion), helped by a rise in the trade account amid signs of recovery in auto exports despite uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Tuesday.

Goods trade registered a surplus of ¥971.1 billion as the current account, one of the widest gauges of international trade, stayed in the black for the 76th straight month, the Finance Ministry said.

In October, recovering demand for cars and auto parts helped limit the shrinkage in overall exports, down 3.2% from a year earlier, to ¥6.32 trillion while imports slumped 15.2% to ¥5.35 trillion due largely to a fall in crude oil shipments to Japan.

A “major contribution” to the current account surplus came from the trade surplus, a ministry official said.

Primary income shrank 2.6% to a surplus of ¥1.79 trillion, after returns on foreign investments decreased.

Resurging coronavirus cases at home have clouded the outlook for the nation’s economy in recent weeks and economic activity remains subdued in the hardest-hit countries abroad.

With the coronavirus pandemic restricting people’s movements, Japan reported a travel surplus of ¥23.5 billion, far smaller than the ¥242.6 billion registered a year earlier.

The travel balance indicates the amount of money spent by foreign tourists in the country on hotels, shopping and leisure activities against the spending of Japanese travelers abroad.

The ministry data showed a services trade deficit of ¥384.6 billion.

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