Japan’s trade surplus widened a massive 40% last month due to booming world demand for its products and a lower oil import bill, the Finance Ministry said today.
The customs-cleared surplus ballooned to $7.22 billion from $5.24 billion a year earlier. Exports rose over 10%, but imports edged up less than 1% over year-earlier levels. Imports had risen nearly 13% in January.
“Imports were very sluggish and that reflects some special factors,” said economist Kim Schoenholtz at Salomon Brothers Asia Ltd.
The factors included fewer working days last month due to Emperor Hirohito’s funeral Feb. 24 and the extra day in February, 1988, the month of comparison, for a leap year.
Japan’s controversial trade surplus with the United States widened to $4.18 billion last month. American imports fell 1.1% while U.S.-bound exports rose 11%.