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Japan's exports fall for third month in a row

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Japan worker
Asia   Exports from Japan fell 8%

Japanese exports fell for a third straight month in December as the impact of China's economic slowdown continued, the government said.

Exports fell 8% from a year earlier to Y6.338 trillion, after a 3.3% decline in November, as overseas demand for steel and semiconductors decreased, data from the Ministry of Finance showed. The third consecutive monthly drop was partly attributable to weaker showings in exports to China and the broader Asian region.

The reading compared with a median forecast for a 7.0% fall in a poll of economists by The Wall Street Journal.

Export volume slid 4.4% from a year earlier, marking the sixth consecutive month of falls.

Adding to the signs of weakness, exports were down 3.8% from the previous month if adjusted for seasonal variations, the data showed. Private economists and Bank of Japan officials have recently paid closer attention to the seasonally adjusted figures to gauge the trends of exports, which account for 18% of gross domestic product.

Japan's trade balance came to a surplus of Y140.2 billion, compared with economists' forecast for a Y110 billion surplus.

Imports dropped 18.0% to Y6.197 trillion, the 12th consecutive monthly decline.

Annual figures showed that the value of exports rose 3.5% in 2015 to Y75.632 trillion. Japan's trade balance for the year came to a deficit of Y2.832 trillion, for the fifth straight year of shortfalls, but down nearly 80% from the previous 12 months.

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