April 19, 2016 - 1:50 PM EDT
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UPDATE1: Japan's trade deficit down 88% in FY 2015 on cheaper oil imports

Japan's trade deficit in fiscal 2015 through March plunged 88.2 percent from a year earlier to 1.08 trillion yen ($9.9 billion), helped largely by a fall in the cost of crude oil imports, the government said Wednesday.

The value of exports fell 0.7 percent for the first decline in three years to 74.12 trillion yen, while that of imports dropped 10.3 percent to 75.20 trillion yen, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report.

The value of crude oil imports plunged 37.9 percent as average oil prices dropped 45.2 percent from the previous year to $48.90 per barrel. Import values of liquefied natural gas decreased 41.4 percent.

Crude oil prices have a major impact on Japan's trade balance as the country relies heavily on energy imports, especially after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, with most of the country's commercial nuclear reactors remaining offline amid heightened public concern about their safety.

Japan's shipments to the United States grew 6.2 percent to 15.09 trillion yen on the back of solid vehicle exports, while imports expanded 2.3 percent to 7.87 trillion yen.

Exports to China, another major destination for Japanese products, dropped 3.1 percent to 13.00 trillion yen, while imports fell 0.6 percent to 19.06 trillion yen.

Exports to the European Union climbed 5.2 percent to 8.10 trillion yen and imports from the 28-nation bloc gained 8.0 percent to 8.73 trillion yen.

The figures were measured on a customs-cleared basis.

In March alone, the trade balance stood at a surplus of 755.0 billion yen, posting a surplus for two months in a row, with exports falling 6.8 percent on year to 6.46 trillion yen and imports sliding 14.9 percent to 5.70 trillion yen.


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Source: Equities.com News (April 19, 2016 - 1:50 PM EDT)

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