13 August 2001, 09:26  Japan current account surplus posts 7th straight fall in June

TOKYO (AFX-ASIA) - Japan's current account surplus posted a year-on-year fall for the seventh straight month in June, reflecting the 12th consecutive monthly decline in the trade surplus, the Ministry of Finance said.
However, the pace of the decline in both surpluses has slowed, it said. The current account surplus in June fell 40.5 pct from a year earlier to 771.2 bln yen, after posting a 45.9 pct decline in May, while the trade surplus registered a 32.4 pct decline in June following a 65.2 pct drop in May.
An MoF official attributed the sustained decline in the external surpluses to the slump in the global economy and the continued shift of production capacity offshore. "Ultimately, the future trend (of Japan's current account surplus) depends on how the US economy, as well as the economic activity in Asia and Japan, will fare," the official said.
Because of this, he added, "we cannot foretell immediately how long the decline will continue."
In June, imports of audio equipment -- an example of a product Japanese makers are increasingly producing offshore - rose 20.7 bln yen in value.
On the other hand, exports of autos fell 17.0 bln yen in value. The official also blamed the weak yen for the sustained decline in the external surpluses. "A weaker yen is inflating the import price of crude oil," he said.
In June, the dollar-denominated crude oil price stood at 27.57 usd per barrel, a 0.7 pct rise over the previous year, while the yen-denominated price rose 13.6 pct to 20,973 yen per kilolitre, the 26th straight monthly rise.
The dollar averaged 122.15 yen in June, up 15.0 pct year-on-year, while the euro averaged 104.29 yen, up 3.5 pct.
In the six months to June, the current account surplus was down 25.2 pct from a year earlier, the second straight half-year fall, led by a fifth consecutive half-year decline in the trade surplus. Exports in the first half fell 1.2 pct year-on-year, the first fall in three half-years, while imports rose 11.9 pct, the fourth straight half-year rise, resulting in a 36.2 pct fall in the trade surplus. The dollar averaged 120.46 yen in the first half, a rise of 12.7 pct yesar-on-year, while the euro averaged 108.06 yen, a 5.3 pct gain. The dollar-based crude oil price averaged 26.02 usd per barrel in the half, a 1.4 pct fall year-on-year, while the yen-based price stood at 19,560 yen per kilolitre, a 10.5 pct gain.

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