Japan’s current account balance posted its biggest surplus in more than three years in February, as the sharp depreciation of the yen boosted income from abroad while a downturn in global crude oil prices pushed down imports, the government said Wednesday.
The surplus stood at 1,440.1 billion yen, the largest since 1,614.5 billion yen registered in September 2011 — six months after a devastating quake-tsunami disaster triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.
It was the first time since March 2013 that Japan’s current account surplus topped 1 trillion yen, and the country marked a surplus for the eighth consecutive month, a ministry official said.
Exports rose 0.4 percent from a year earlier to 5,958.8 billion yen on the back of robust car shipments, but imports dropped 6.2 percent to 6,102.0 billion yen, shrinking the goods trade deficit to 143.1 billion yen.
Crude oil imports plunged 54.8 percent in February as average oil prices dove 55.4 percent to $49.45 per barrel during the month.
The surplus in the primary income account, which reflects how much Japan earns from its foreign investments, surged 27.5 percent to 1,862.2 billion yen, with a weaker yen helping raise receipts from overseas securities investment.
The income surplus was the biggest for February since comparative data became available in 1985.
The pace of growth in Japan’s current account surplus had been slow amid strong demand for oil and gas from utilities bolstering fossil fuel-based power generation as an alternative to nuclear power generation in the wake of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.