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Japan January exports seen up for second straight month

Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's exports are seen rising for the second straight month in January, supported by a global economic recovery and a soft yen while imports are expected to rise for the first time in about two years, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

Exports likely rose 4.7 percent in January from a year ago, according to the poll of 18 analysts, following 5.4 percent growth in December when shipments rose for the first time in 15 months.

The poll showed imports were also expected to have grown an annual 4.7 percent, which would be the first rise since December 2014. This would result in a trade deficit of 636.8 billion yen ($5.62 billion), the first shortfall in five months.

"The global economy continued its recovery trend thanks to a pickup in emerging economies," said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.

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"The pace of gains in exports may have slowed due to the timing of Chinese new year holidays but Japan's exports likely maintained its rising trend if we average them out in a few months."

Shipments of auto parts and electronic parts are expected to have contributed to export growth, while a weak yen and commodity price recovery likely boosted import costs, according to analysts.

In January, the dollar rose to as high as 118.60 yen <JPY=EBS>. It traded around 113.30 yen on Friday.

The finance ministry will announce the trade data at 8:50 a.m. JST on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump had previously lumped Japan with China and Mexico as big contributors to the U.S. trade deficit and spoke against its auto trade as "unfair", accusing Tokyo of using monetary policy to devalue its currency to boost exports.

However, more recently, Trump held off criticizing Japan's currency and trade surplus with the U.S. when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the U.S.

The two leaders agreed to establish a bilateral economic dialogue focusing on issues such as economic policies, infrastructure, energy and trade.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Sam Holmes)

 
 
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