P. M. BRIEFING : Japanese Tourists Trim Trade Gap

From Times wire service s

Japan's current account surplus tumbled to its lowest level in four years in January due to unexpectedly heavy spending abroad by Japanese tourists, the government said today.

The Ministry of Finance reported an unadjusted current account surplus of $1.73 billion for January, against surpluses of $3.51 billion a year earlier and $9.27 billion in December.

"The big thing has been the large increase in travel abroad," said Matthew Berlow, an economist at Credit Lyonnais in Tokyo. Japanese have increasingly been exploring foreign tourist sites, taking advantage of the strong yen.

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