P.M. BRIEFING : Japan Surplus Plummets 57%

From Times Wire Services

Japan’s current account trade surplus plunged 57% in November, the government said today, as the price of imported oil soared and Japanese tourists spent more abroad.

The current account surplus--the broadest measure of trade in goods and services--narrowed to $1.75 billion in November from $4.11 billion a year earlier. In October it was $2.73 billion.

“The rise in oil prices . . . has boosted the value of imports for several months now,” said Kusuo Aoki, economist at Yamaichi Research Institute. “It’s almost a pattern.”

The non-trade, or “invisibles” account, swung sharply into a deficit of $2.5 billion from a surplus of $261 million a year ago.


“This should mostly be the larger number of Japanese tourists going abroad,” Aoki said. “But it’s not that there are that many more travelers. It’s because those travelers are spending more money overseas.”