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BRIEFLY / JAPAN

Japan's Trade Surplus Widens in February

March 21, 2001|Bloomberg News

Japan's trade surplus more than doubled in February as imports fell. Companies are buying fewer raw materials and parts from abroad as they curtail production to cope with slower sales at home and abroad. The surplus widened to $6.9 billion from $2.9 billion in January, seasonally adjusted, Ministry of Finance figures showed. Imports fell 5.1% from January. Although exports rose 6.9%, the volume of goods sold abroad fell 5.7% from a year ago, led by an 11% decline in exports to the U.S. Companies from Hitachi Ltd. to NEC Corp. and Toshiba Corp. have responded to slowing sales abroad by cutting production and capital spending, threatening to rob Japan's economy of its main sources of growth. In another sign demand at home is slowing, the all-industry index, which tracks services, manufacturing and construction, fell 1.8% in January from December, a separate government report showed.

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