Japan’s trade deficit narrows

Japan’s trade deficit narrowed more than expected in December, a sign that the impact of the weak yen and higher power costs is beginning to soften.

The trade deficit fell below two trillion yen for the first time in five months to 1.45 trillion yen ($11.3 billion), the finance ministry reported on Thursday. Imports increased by 20.6 percent compared to a year ago, slowing the rate of increase more than economists had assumed, while exports increased by 11.5 percent.

The contribution of crude oil and liquid natural gas imports decreased in December compared to the annual increase in November. Exports to Europe rose, while shipments to China fell for the first time in seven months, following the decline in auto shipments.