TOKYO — Japan posted an unusual trade deficit for the first 20 days in January but government officials and economists said today that the figures probably did not indicate a trend.
The report helped boost the dollar's value in Tokyo trading, rising to 128.60 yen at the close, up 0.72 yen from Wednesday's finish.
Japan reported a $518-million deficit for the interim January period against a surplus of $990.8 million a year earlier.
The 20-day trade figures swung to a deficit as imports surged 45.5% to $9.05 billion, outpacing an 18.3% rise in exports to $8.53 billion.
"The figures are not as significant as may seem," said economist Richard Jerram of Kleinwort Benson International Inc. January data are always furthest from usual trends, he said.
Exports also were probably suppressed because of the Japanese holidays, Jerram said.
Jerram said he expects that when the full-month figures are reported, they will show Japan with a surplus of $2.8 billion.