October 21, 2013 / 1:10 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 4-Sharp Japan export slowdown dents 'Abenomics', flags Asia weakness

* Sept exports up 11.5 pct vs f'cast 15.6 pct
    * Export volume slumps as Asia slowdown hits
    * BOJ Kuroda says Japan's economy to keep recovering
    * Taiwan Sept export orders also flag Asia weakness

    By Leika Kihara and Tetsushi Kajimoto
    TOKYO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Japan's export growth fell well
short of expectations in September as the country posted a
record run of trade deficits, a sign that slowing demand in Asia
is taking the shine off Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's stimulus
    In volume terms Japan's exports fell on the month, adding to
the weak picture for Asia's trade-reliant economies, after China
last week reported a surprise slide in exports for September.
    Taiwan's export orders - a leading indicator of activity
over the next two or three months - highlighted similar signs of
slowing demand in the region.
    "There is really no change in the main thing that's going on
across Asia -  which is no growth in exports the past two years.
I think it's weak global spending, it's as simple as that," said
   Tim Condon, regional economist for ING in Singapore.
    A sharp drop in Japan's export volume despite the boost from
a weak yen, which lifts the competitiveness of Japanese goods, 
could curb third-quarter economic growth.
    Japanese policymakers are counting on overseas growth to
pick up in time to make up for an expected slump in personal
spending after the sales tax is raised next April.
    Persistent trade gaps in Japan also add to concerns the
country could end up spending more overseas than it earns,
adding to strains caused by the country's debt burden, the
heaviest among industrialised nations.
    Exports rose 11.5 percent in September from a year earlier,
less than a median market forecast for a 15.6 percent increase,
trade data from the Ministry of Finance showed.
    A notable slowdown was in exports to Asia, which rose just
8.2 percent after increasing 13.5 percent in August, suggesting
that weak demand in countries such as  Indonesia and Thailand -
big markets for Japanese automakers - was taking a toll.
    Real exports, which the BOJ calculates by stripping out the
effect of price changes, is considered a good indicator of
volume trends. They fell 4.4 percent from the previous month.
    With the weak yen inflating the cost of importing fuel,
Japan logged a trade deficit of 932 billion yen ($9.5 billion)
in September, running a negative balance for the 15th straight
    China's latest trade data showed a similar pattern, with
exports down 0.3 percent in September from a year earlier.
Shipments to Southeast Asia, China's fastest growing market in
the past year, dived to a 17-month low. 
    Data from Taiwan on Monday showed export orders from China,
Japan and Southeast Asia all contracted last month, though
overall orders rose 2 percent on-year on demand from Europe and
the United States. 
    Japan's economy expanded for three straight quarters in
April-June as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's stimulus policies
boosted business sentiment and personal consumption. Analysts
expect Japan to avoid a sharp downturn in the third quarter as
robust domestic demand continue to offset softness in exports.
    The Bank of Japan on Monday raised its assessment for all
nine regional economies and its governor stressed that the
world's third-largest economy will continue to recover - due
mostly to robust domestic demand. 
    "Japan's economy is making steady progress toward achieving
the BOJ's 2 percent inflation target," BOJ Governor Haruhiko
Kuroda told a quarterly meeting of the bank's branch managers.
    But Shigeki Kushida, who as head of the BOJ's Osaka branch
oversees the Kinki region of western Japan, said exports lacked
momentum in his area, which is home to electronics giants such
as Panasonic Corp.
    "I am a little worried about emerging markets, particularly
emerging Asia," Kushida told reporters after the meeting.

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