Japan posted a current account surplus of 416.7 billion yen in July, the Ministry of Finance said in a report on Monday, citing a rise in foreign investments as sending the index back into the black for the first time in two months.
The ministry said that owing to augmented revenues from foreign investment -- a record high for the month -- the trade deficit was outweighed, but the headline figure still fell short of median economists' expectations of 442.2 billion yen, on the heels of a 399.1 billion yen deficit logged in June.
The ministry's figures showed that the trade deficit in the recording period stood at 828.1 billion yen, short of the 725.9 billion yen expected by analysts, with the figure following a deficit of 537.1 billion yen logged a month earlier.
The figures showed that Japan's exports, owing to the yen's retreat versus the U.S. dollar, increased 8 percent to 6.247 trillion yen from 6.115 trillion yen a month earlier, compared to imports logged in the same period that were up 7.6 percent to 7. 075 trillion yen, from 6.652 trillion yen in June, on an annualized basis.
As has been the trend in recent months, natural resources have pushed up the price of Japan's imports, especially for liquefied natural gas and crude oil, as Japan's energy problems continue in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, as all of its nuclear power stations continue to remain shuttered in the wake of the earthquake-triggered, tsunami disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant, 250 km northeast of Tokyo.
In its preliminary report, the Finance Ministry noted that its foreign investments increased for the first time in four months by 2.8 percent to 1,853.1 billion yen in the recording period, owing to elevated dividends from foreign direct investment, boosted by the yen's comparative weakness.
Looking ahead, leading economists are currently debating two scenarios, one which views the current account balance as improving based on April's tax hike continuing to inhibit domestic production, hence restring imports, whereas the other prominent view is that the deficit is unlikely to taper dramatically as export growth continues to be hampered by the overall sluggishness of the growth of the global economy.
A country's current account surplus is one of the broadest measure of a nation's trade with the rest of the world and the data is keenly eyed by the Bank of Japan and the Finance Ministry ahead of new potential policy changes or monetary easing or tapering measures.
In Japan, the current account surplus increases the nation's net foreign assets by the corresponding amount, and a current account deficit does the reverse. Both the Japanese government and private payments are included in the calculation and it is called the current account because goods and services are generally consumed in the current period.