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July 17, 2019, 9:55 p.m. EDT

Japan exports drop for 7th straight month in June

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By Mayumi Negishi

TOKYO--Japan's exports tumbled for the seventh straight month in June, hit by a sharp drop in shipments of chip-making tools and automobile parts to China, as tariffs levied on Chinese technology goods by the U.S. continued to take a toll on global trade.

Japan's exports fell by 6.7% in June compared with a year ago, data released by the Ministry of Finance showed Thursday.

This was larger than the consensus 5.4% drop in a FactSet poll of economists. Shipments of chip-making tools to China fell by more than a quarter, the data showed.

The weak exports came with a fall in imports of liquefied natural gas and nonferrous metals, which led to a trade surplus of 590 billion yen ($5.47 billion) in June, compared with a Y967 billion trade deficit in the previous month.

Economic uncertainty is hurting exporters of precision equipment like Japan, which is home to Tokyo Electron Ltd., Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Co., Advantest Corp. and other major makers of machines.

Exports to China, Japan's biggest trading partner, fell 10% year-over-year. Overall exports to Asia fell 8%, as a global slump in chip demand hurt appetites of chip makers like South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. to invest in capacity expansion. Exports to Europe also fell by 7% on lower appetite for Japanese goods.

However, exports to the U.S. rose 4.8% on higher demand for Japanese chipmaking equipment, expanding its monthly trade surplus with the U.S. by 13.5%. The data comes amid continued pressure from Washington on Japan for a bilateral trade deal.

Write to Mayumi Negishi at mayumi.negishi@wsj.com

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