Japan Goes From a Current Account Deficit to a Surplus

Japan swung to a current-account surplus in February after a record deficit in January, lending support to a currency that officials have sought to weaken to aid exporters and economic growth.

The excess in the widest measure of trade was 1.18 trillion yen ($14.5 billion) the Ministry of Finance said in Tokyo today. The median estimate of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a surplus of 1.12 trillion yen.

The yen is rebounding even after interventions by the finance ministry and monetary easing by the Bank of Japan helped to bring the currency down from October’s post World War II high against the dollar. Governor Masaaki Shirakawa’s policy makers are meeting today and tomorrow to decide whether the world’s third-biggest economy needs more support as it recovers from last year’s earthquake and tsunami.

“There is no doubt that the yen is still too strong for companies to become optimistic, which leads to less investment and weak growth,” said Yoshimasa Maruyama, chief economist at Itochu Corp. in Tokyo. “The BOJ will have to be mindful about the recent yen appreciation.”

The yen traded at 81.48 per dollar, up 0.2 percent as of 10:40 a.m. in Tokyo, strengthening for a fourth day. The Japanese currency hit a postwar high of 75.35 per dollar in October before expanded monetary stimulus by the central bank on Feb. 14 aided weakening….”

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