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Japan Trade Surplus Rises Again

November 19, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s trade surplus with the rest of the world rose for a 19th straight month in October, surging 23.9 percent compared to a year ago, the government said Thursday.

The merchandise trade surplus, a measure of goods which pass customs, grew to a non-seasonally adjusted 1.37 trillion yen ($11.33 billion) last month, the Finance Ministry said.

The surplus was slightly higher than the 1.32 trillion yen ($10.93 billion) average forecast of Tokyo-based economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

The growth in the trade surplus was expected to continue in the coming months, said a Finance Ministry official who declined to be named.

The steady climb in the surplus reflects consumers’ reluctance to spend amid Japan’s worst recession in decades. That has cut demand for imports and made Japanese manufacturers increasingly reliant on sales overseas.

Despite the continued expansion in the trade surplus, the ministry said exports fell 5.7 percent in October _ the first year-on-year drop in five months.

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