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Japan Current-Account Surplus Climbs as Abenomics Sinks Yen

A man photographs a shipping terminal in Tokyo. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
A man photographs a shipping terminal in Tokyo. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Japan’s current-account surplus rose in March to the highest level in a year as a depreciating yen boosted repatriated earnings and brightened the outlook for the nation’s exports.

The excess in the widest measure of trade was 1.25 trillion yen ($12.4 billion), the Ministry of Finance said in Tokyo today. That exceeded the 1.22 trillion yen median estimate of 23 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s revamp of Japan’s central bank to focus on ending deflation paid off when the yen today slid past 101 for the first time since 2009, helping exporters such as Toyota Motor Corp., which now sees its highest annual profit in six years. Sustaining a current-account surplus may help to maintain confidence in the nation’s finances as Abe wrestles with a debt burden more than twice the size of the economy.

“The currency’s depreciation is buoying Japan’s income from overseas investment at a pretty solid pace,” said Long Hanhua Wang, an economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in Tokyo. “A weaker yen provides support for Japanese exports.”

The cost of a weaker yen is higher import costs, reflected in a ninth straight trade deficit in March. The current-account surplus was 4 percent lower than the same month last year and the income surplus widened to 1.7 trillion yen, the highest level since March 2010, the ministry said.

Yen, Stocks

The yen was at 101.14 per dollar as of 10:52 a.m. in Tokyo after earlier touching 101.20, the weakest in four years. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 2.9 percent to trade at the highest since January 2008.

Economy Minister Akira Amari said today that “excessive weakness” in the yen would affect the public. He wouldn’t specify an appropriate level for the currency.

Toyota Motor Corp. is projecting its highest annual profit in six years as a weaker yen boosts overseas sales. President Akio Toyoda said this week that Abe’s economic policies are helping the company.

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