Japan current account in black for 5th month as trade balance swings to surplus

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s current account balance logged the fifth straight month of surplus in June as the trade balance swung to a surplus, government data showed on Tuesday, easing some concerns about any decline in purchasing power of the world’s third largest economy.

The current account surplus stood at 1.51 trillion yen ($10.6 billion) in June, Ministry of Finance data showed.

That marked an expansion of about 1 trillion yen from the same month a year earlier and compared with economists’ median forecast for a surplus of 1.4 trillion yen in a Reuters poll.

A breakdown of the data showed the trade balance swung to a surplus of 328 billion yen, as trade gains grew 1.4 trillion yen from the same month a year ago, resulting in an overall surplus for a fifth straight month, a ministry official said.

However, the primary income surplus narrowed to 1.68 trillion yen, down by 167 billion yen versus the same month a year earlier.

Over the past year, the current account data has highlighted the pain that high energy costs and a weak yen have inflicted on the world’s third-biggest economy, which relies heavily on imports of fuel and raw materials.

Japan’s position as an export powerhouse has also waned in recent years, in part because companies have moved production overseas, making overseas investment a pillar of the country’s earning power.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Kim Coghill)