TOKYO (AP) _ Japan's current account surplus shrank 28 percent in July from the same month a year ago, the government said Thursday. It was the eighth straight month of year-on-year decline.

The current account surplus _ the difference between Japan's income from foreign sources and payments on foreign obligations _ decreased to 775.6 billion yen ($6.46 billion) from June 2000, the Finance Ministry said.

The surplus measures trade in goods, services, tourism and investment before adjustment for seasonal factors and is Japan's broadest measure of trade.

Despite the decline, the July surplus was still bigger than expected. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast it to come in at only 573.4 billion yen ($4.77 billion) for July.

The backslide comes as slowing global growth saps demand for Japan's exports _ especially information-technology products _ and cuts into Japan's trade surplus.

The retreat was further fueled by a trend of Japanese manufacturers moving operations to lower-cost Asian nations.

A weakening yen made matters worse, by raising the cost of imports such as oil. As the yen shed 15 percent of its value against the dollar over the last year, crude oil prices jumped 10.5 percent, the ministry said.

The Finance Ministry announced last month that Japan's global trade surplus in July plunged by 57.9 percent compared to the same period last year to 420.7 billion yen ($3.5 billion). That slowdown _ a measure of all goods exported minus those imported _ was greater than expected.

In May, the government announced that the current account surplus for fiscal year 2000 declined 4.5 percent to 12.07 trillion yen ($101 billion). It was the second consecutive fall in the fiscal year surplus. In 1999 it dropped 16.8 percent.

Japan's fiscal year begins April 1.