TOKYO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Japan logged a current account
deficit for a second straight month in December, resulting in
its smallest annual surplus on record in 2012, Ministry of
Finance data showed on Friday, as weak global demand hurt
exports and as energy imports rose.
-- The deficit stood at 264.1 billion yen ($2.83 billion),
exceeding a median estimate for a 144.2 billion yen deficit,
according to a Reuters poll.
-- For all of 2012, the current account surplus stood at 4.7
trillion yen, the smallest on record.
-- In January last year, Japan recorded a current account
deficit of 455.6 billion yen, the biggest in comparable data
going back to 1985.
TAKESHI MINAMI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, NORINCHUKIN RESEARCH
'The current account balance is expected to show a deficit
in January when exports usually slow down, and probably in
February as well, but the deficit is expected to be temporary.
'A weak yen will help exports, and overseas economies will
be picking up. Also, the possibility has emerged for nuclear
plants to restart under the new government. And earnings on
overseas investments will continue to be a help.
'Japan will remain a nation of current account surpluses but
the surplus will not be as high as it used to be.'
YOSHIMASA MARUYAMA, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ITOCHU ECONOMIC
RESEARCH INSTITUTE, TOKYO
'I am not expecting Japan's current account deficit will
become a trend but the surplus will probably stay at a lower
'Japan's energy imports are expected to stay at higher level
this year and next. The recent easing in the yen will likely
help to boost exports but at the same time it will have an
adverse impact on import costs.
'Japan's current account will also be supported by
investment income from a recovery in the global economy.'
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For full current account tables:
-- The yen is trading near its lowest level versus
the dollar in almost three years on speculation the Bank of
Japan could speed up aggressive monetary easing by purchasing
more government debt.
-- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has explicitly stated that he
wants to 'correct' the trend for excessive yen gains to help the
economy. A weaker currency would benefit exporters by increasing
overseas earnings but also makes energy imports and other import
prices more expensive.
-- Japan's current account will improve gradually as a weak
yen boosts exports, but it may take a few months, some
($1 = 93.2100 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Stanley White and Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Edmund
Keywords: JAPAN ECONOMY/CURRENT
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