Japan current account surplus jumps, marks record for November

A Japan Yen note is seen in this illustration photo taken June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration
  • Nov current account surplus at 1.8 trillion yen
  • Primary income surplus at 3.7 trillion yen

TOKYO, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Japan's current account surplus logged a surprising surge to mark a record for November, as weakness in the yen drove income gains from portfolio investment and direct investment overseas to their highest level for the month.

The surplus came in at 1.8 trillion yen ($13.7 billion), more than three times the median forecast of economists in a Reuters poll, also helped by an easing in the trade deficit.

"The impact of the weak yen boosting import bills has run its course, curbing trade deficits, while the currency's weakness helped push up yen-denominated income gains," said Kenta Maruyama, analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting.

November's data marked the first year-on-year growth in the current account surplus since March 2022.

The country's current account surplus has long been regarded as a sign of export might and a source of confidence in the safe-haven yen, but the account has occasionally fallen into deficit on a monthly basis in recent years.

The primary income surplus, which includes interest payments and dividends from investments overseas, hit 3.7 trillion yen. It was the largest amount for the month since comparable data became available in 1985, with the previous record being 2.4 trillion yen in November 2021.

The trade deficit was 1.5 trillion yen, narrowing from the previous month's 1.9 trillion yen.

SMBC Nikko Securities economists said that a pausing in both yen weakening and high oil prices had helped reduce the trade deficit, while the travel account surplus had also grown on the back of recovery in inbound tourists.

($1 = 131.8900 yen)

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Edwina Gibbs

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