Japan logs current account surplus for fourth month, but trade gap widens


TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan reported a current account surplus of 1.86 trillion yen ($13.08 billion) in May, slightly down from the previous month, as the country’s trade deficit widened, Ministry of Finance data showed on Monday.

The surplus compared with economists’ median forecast for a surplus of 1.88 trillion yen in a Reuters poll.

A breakdown of the data showed the trade deficit widened to 1.2 trillion yen from 113 billion yen in April, a ministry official said.

However, the primary income surplus hit 3.6 trillion yen, up from 3 trillion yen in April, resulting in an overall surplus for a fourth straight month.

Dividend payments from overseas business affiliates in sectors such as automobiles and interest payments from securities investments helped drive up income gains.

Over the past year, the current account data has highlighted the pain that high energy costs and a weak yen have inflicted on the world’s third biggest economy, which relies heavily on imports of fuel and raw materials.

Japan’s position as an export powerhouse has also waned in recent years, in part because companies have moved production overseas, making overseas investment a pillar of the country’s earning power.

($1 = 142.2200 yen)

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Sonali Paul)

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