Japan recorded a trade deficit in October as exports dropped off more steeply than expected while imports rose on higher fuel costs, government data showed Monday.
Japan had a deficit of 273.8 billion yen ($3.6 billion), reversing a year-before surplus of 812.6 billion yen.
The country returned to a trade surplus in September as auto production recovered to levels before the devastating March earthquake and tsunami hit output.
But exports have been hurt by slowing global demand and the yen's appreciation to record levels since World War II.
Economists had expected a surplus of 55.6 billion yen, according to a survey by Dow Jones Newswires and the Nikkei daily.