Page last updated at 05:09 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 06:09 UK

Japan's export slide slows down

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Cranes and containers at Yokohama, Japan (30/03/2009)
Japan's exports have been hit by a collapse in demand

The slide in Japan's exports slowed in June in a sign government stimulus spending around the world may be propping up demand.

But they were still 35.7% lower than the same month a year earlier.

Japan, dependent on exports for growth, has been suffering its steepest recession since World War II.

It is a sign of just how badly Japan's economy has been battered that a drop in exports of more than one-third is hailed as perhaps a positive sign.

But the decline in June, of 35.7% compared the same month a year before, is better than May, when exports were down by more than 40%.

With imports also lower, Japan made a trade surplus of $5.4bn (£3.3bn).

Japanese companies have benefited particularly from government stimulus spending in China.

Japan's economy shrank at an annualized pace of 14.2% in the first quarter of the year, the worst performance on record.

The Bank of Japan recently said conditions had stopped getting worse.

But any improvement is mostly being felt by bigger manufacturers.

Smaller companies are still struggling and unemployment is expected to continue to rise.

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