Japan moves towards recovery

Japan’s first trade surplus in five months and a revival of confidence among manufacturers yesterday added to evidence the economy is growing again as the yen weakens and external demand picks up, reducing the need for further monetary policy easing. Exports to the US rose by 11.9 per cent in the year to February – their fastest annual pace in more than a year. Car exports jumped by more than a quarter, supporting the government’s view that the economy is picking up after contracting in late 2011. Still, total exports fell 2.7 per cent from a year earlier, but that was much smaller than economists’ median forecast of a 6.4 per cent decline and the 9.2 per cent drop in January.