Japan's Exports Add to Abe's Woes as China Slowdown Saps Demand

  • Shipments abroad slow down for second month in August
  • Economic data flow for third quarter points to weakness

Japan’s export growth slowed for a second month, signaling waning overseas support for an economy that’s already beset by weakness at home.

The value of shipments rose 3.1 percent in August from a year earlier, compared with estimates compiled by Bloomberg for a 4.3 percent increase. Imports dropped 3.1 percent, leaving a deficit of 569.7 billion yen ($4.7 billion), according the figures released by the finance ministry Thursday.

Exports to China fell 4.6 percent as a market rout and economic slowdown in Japan’s biggest trading partner sapped demand. Disappointing data in recent months has raised concern on the outlook for economic growth after a contracted last quarter and an inflation rate that’s slid back to zero.

“Focus continues to be on how much growth will rebound from July to September,” according to Koya Miyamae, an economist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. Miyamae, in note before the data release, said a second consecutive drop in gross domestic product would make further stimulus from the government and Bank of Japan more likely.

The yen was little changed at 120.60 per dollar at 9:09 a.m. in Tokyo while the Topix stock index advanced 0.9 percent.

The export figures come on the heels of a cut to Japan’s long-term credit rating Wednesday by Standard & Poor’s, which said there was little chance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy turning around the poor outlook for economic growth and inflation over the next few years.

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