Japan’s current account surplus expanded 23.1 percent in August from a year earlier for the third consecutive monthly increase, as imports were pushed down by lower crude oil prices and a firming yen, the government said Tuesday.
The surplus came to 2.00 trillion yen ($19 billion), the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report. Japan posted a current account surplus for the 26th straight month.
Among key components in the current account, one of the widest gauges of a country’s international trade, goods trade registered a surplus of 243.2 billion yen, a turnaround from a deficit of 329.2 billion yen a year earlier.
Exports fell 9.6 percent from a year earlier to 5.30 trillion yen, led by a decline in shipments of automobiles and steel, while imports plunged 18.3 percent to 5.06 trillion yen.
Despite the turnaround, “the trade balance has not improved much, given continued weak demand in Asia,” said Yuichiro Nagai, an economist at Barclays Securities Japan Ltd., adding that the yen’s appreciation may have also helped push down exports.
In the reporting month, the Japanese currency climbed 17.8 percent from the previous year to an average 101.27 yen per U.S. dollar, and surged 17.2 percent to 113.54 yen per euro, according to the ministry.
The value of crude oil imports plunged 35.7 percent as average oil prices dropped 23.1 percent to $45.37 per barrel in the month. The value of liquefied natural gas shed 34.6 percent.