Japan Posts Its 21st Straight Monthly Current-Account Surplus

Japan posted its 21st consecutive monthly current-account surplus, with cheap energy imports helping an economy that continues to struggle to stoke growth and inflation.

The excess in the widest measure of the nation’s trade was 2.98 trillion yen ($27.5 billion) in March, according to data released Thursday by the Ministry of Finance, compared with 2.43 trillion yen in February. It widened 6.9 percent year over year. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a surplus of 2.97 trillion yen for March.

Relatively cheap energy exports, an influx of tourists from overseas and income from investments abroad has aided Japan’s trade surplus in recent months. However, weakness in exports and domestic demand continue to slow growth, and a stronger yen is dragging down profits at corporate giants including Toyota Motor Corp. and may reduce the money they repatriate to Japan.

“Japan is likely to keep its current account surplus for a while,” Atsushi Takeda, an economist at Itochu Corp. in Tokyo, said before the report was released. “Still, the pace of expansion in the surplus may slow in coming months with a pickup in oil prices and a strong yen which has impacts on trade, profits and the number of tourists.”

Japan’s currency was trading at 108.40 per dollar at 8:58 a.m. in Tokyo. The yen has strengthened about 11 percent since the start of the year.

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