Japan trade surplus expands strongly in September

Japanese exports rose for the 10th consecutive month on robust shipments of automobiles and electronic parts, organic chemicals and semi-conductors

Japan's September trade surplus expanded nearly 40 percent from a year earlier as exports of cars and chemical products surged on brisk demand from major trading partners, the government said Thursday.

The world's third-largest economy logged a surplus of 670.2 billion yen ($5.9 billion), up 37.7 percent from a year earlier, according to data from the finance ministry.

The figure was higher than market expectations of a 560-billion-yen surplus.

Exports rose for the 10th consecutive month on robust shipments of automobiles and electronic parts including organic chemicals and semi-conductors.

Imports grew 12.0 percent for a ninth monthly rise, boosted mainly by higher bills for coal and crude oil.

The ministry said the yen was on average 7.5 percent cheaper against the US dollar in September compared to the same month the year earlier, making Japan's imports costlier.

Japan's politically sensitive trade surplus with the United States grew 5.1 percent -- the third monthly rise in a row -- on increased exports of medical products, microchip-making equipment and cars.

The nation's trade flows with the US, over which the two countries battled for decades into the 1990s, has become less of a hot-button issue under recent presidential administrations.

But President Donald Trump, who will visit Japan early next month, has vowed to root out "unfair" trade practices around the world, targeting countries including Japan.

With the European Union, Japan logged its first surplus in the past two months, while its deficit with China shrank 48.5 percent.