Japan’s trade deficit swelled to a larger-than-forecast 960.3 billion yen ($9.8 billion) in August, the 14th straight month of red ink, as imports outpaced growth in exports, customs data showed Thursday.
Boosted by higher fuel costs, imports rose 16 percent from a year earlier to 6.74 trillion yen ($68.7 billion) while exports climbed 14.7 percent to 5.78 trillion yen ($58.9 billion). The deficit was a quarter bigger than the 768.4 billion yen gap seen in August 2012.
In surplus for years, Japan’s trade account fell into deficit after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami on Japan’s northeastern coast caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. With all nuclear plants offline for safety checks or maintenance, imports of crude oil and natural gas have soared.
Costs of imported fuel, which comprise more than a third of all imports, rose nearly 18 percent in August, despite a slight decline in volume.
The value of total imports of food, raw materials and manufactured goods also rose at a double-digit pace from the same month a year earlier, while import volumes of most declined.
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