Japan current account surplus at 5-month high

Surplus rose 14.3% from a year earlier

Japan’s current account surplus unexpectedly expanded in September to the widest since April as a weaker yen boosted the value of overseas investment income.

The surplus rose 14.3 percent from a year earlier to 587 billion yen ($5.9 billion), against a median estimate for a 401 billion yen excess in a survey of 24 economists. The income surplus gained 24.6 percent to a record for September, lifted by higher interest receipts and dividends from foreign investments.

The bigger surplus in Japan’s widest measure of trade offers support to a recovery that Prime Minster Shinzo Abe jump- started with fiscal and monetary stimulus. With a national sales tax set to rise in April, Abe needs to sustain momentum in the world’s third-biggest economy.

“The current account will probably remain in surplus as a robust income surplus will make up for the trade deficits,” said Masamichi Adachi, a senior economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Tokyo and a former central bank official. “Along with fuel, robust domestic demand is also pushing up imports, so we are unlikely to see a trade surplus in the near future.”

The trade balance marked its longest string of deficits since 1964 in September, weighed down by increased imports of fossil fuels after nuclear plants were shuttered in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

The yen was little changed at 99.08 per dollar at 10:03 a.m. in Tokyo, down almost 20 percent over the past year. The benchmark Topix index was up 0.8 percent after closing down last week.

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