— See Separate Table For Details Of Individual Forecasts

TOKYO (MNI) – Japan is expected to have posted a current account
surplus of Y1.752 trillion in March, down 31.5% on year, the first y/y
fall in two months after +3.0% in February, according to the median
forecast of economists surveyed by Market News International.

The Ministry of Finance will release the data at 0850 JST on
Thursday, May 12 (2350 GMT on Wednesday).

Many economists said a year-on-year drop in trade surplus in March
appears to have offset a rise in income account surplus.

Economists forecast that the trade surplus in the current account
data — FOB (free on board) for both exports and imports — will show
Y322 billion in March, down 70.4% y/y.

Japan’s trade surplus on a custom-cleared basis — FOB for exports
and CIF (cost, insurance and freight) for imports — slumped 78.9% y/y,
as exports fell 2.2% y/y, posting the first fall in 16 months, according
to the MOF data released on April 20.

In March, exports of automobiles and semiconductors plunged as
their production capacity and distribution networks were disrupted by
the March 11 earthquake disaster.

Meanwhile, the surplus in the income account, the largest component
of Japan’s current account balance, is estimated at Y1.752 trillion in
March, up 5.0% y/y.

Looking ahead, Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at Shinkin Central
Bank, forecast that the current account surplus will shrink further in
the April-June quarter as exports are expected to remain weak while
imports will show sharp increases on strong demand for energy and
commodities for the reconstruction of quake-hit area.

** Market News International Tokyo Newsroom: 81-3-5403-4838 **

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