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     TOKYO (MNI) - Japanese exports continued to rise in April on solid U.S. and
European demand for automobiles and Asian needs for chip-making machines,
indicating firm global growth will support Japan's modest economic recovery,
trade statistics released Monday by the Ministry of Finance showed.
     Japan's economy posted the first contraction in nine quarters in the first
three months of the year but government and central bank officials believe it
was caused by a temporary slip in consumption and that the GDP will rebound in
the April-June quarter.
     The key points from the latest trade data:
     * Japanese exports rose 7.8% on year in April, coming in weaker than the
MNI median economist forecast for an 8.7% rise. It was the 17th straight
year-on-year rise and the pace of increase accelerated from +2.1% in March.
     * The increase was led by higher shipments of automobiles, ships and
chip-making equipment. Exports to the U.S. and European Union marked the 15th
straight year-on-year gains and those to Asia and China posted the second
straight y/y rises.
     * Imports rose 5.9% on year in April, slower than the MNI median forecast
of +10.3%. It was the first year-on-year rise in two months after -0.6% in
March, led by increased purchases of crude oil, power generating machines and
coal.
     * The April trade balance came to a surplus of Y626.0 billion, wider than
the MNI median forecast for a Y411.1 billion surplus. It was the second straight
monthly black ink after the surpluses of Y797.0 billion in March and Y478.3
billion in April 2017. Japan posted a trade deficit in the first two months of
2018.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-2175-0040; email: hiroshi.inoue@marketnews.com
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-4670-5309; email: max.sato@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MAJDS$,M$A$$$,M$J$$$,MT$$$$]