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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 December 2006, 07:50 GMT
Exports lift Japan trade surplus
Toyota's Auris car
The trade surplus was lifted by strong demand for Japanese cars
Japan's trade surplus with the rest of the world rose more strongly than expected in November, boosted by demand for cars and electrical goods.

The trade surplus leapt by 54.1% in the month from a year earlier to 915.9bn yen ($7.76bn; 4bn).

Economists had been expecting the world's second-largest economy to record a more modest rise in the trade surplus of just under 3%.

The government figures follow a 25.3% fall in the surplus during October.

Economic trend

Imports into Japan in November rose by 7.5% to 5.72 trillion yen, lifted by higher raw material costs, the Ministry of Finance said.

But strong growth in sales of shipments of cars, steel and electronic items pushed Japanese exports up by 12.1% to 6.63 trillion yen.

"The trade surplus was bigger than expected as exports were stronger than we thought," said Yasuo Yamamoto, a senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute.

"The data showed imports of crude oil fell while exports remained firm. As crude oil prices continue to decline, this trend may be here to stay for a while."

Shipments of goods to the US rose by 8.6% from the previous year to 1.51 trillion yen, while exports to China rose by 19.5% to 998.1bn yen, the government said.

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