P. M. BRIEFING : Costly Imports Trim Japan Edge

From Times Wire Services

Japan's current-account surplus shrank 70% in April, its sharpest drop since June, 1979, due in large part to a jump in costly imports that reflects the expensive tastes of its consumers, especially for artworks, economists said today.

Japan's surplus in its unadjusted current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, narrowed to $2 billion in April from $6.58 billion a year earlier and $8.13 billion in March, the Finance Ministry said.

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