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The rise in Japan's April real export index underpins the Bank of Japan view that goods exports will continue to recover as the global economy picks up, with base effects likely to underpin growth numbers in coming months..

Bank officials are certainly upbeat on the export data, but caution that the pace will likely slow temporarily in Q2 due to supply-side restrictions from the global chip shortage.

The real export index rose 2.6% m/m in April, building on an upwardly revised 3.2% gain) in March. The April index rose 3.6% vs. Q1.

Exports rose 38.0% y/y in April after the 16.1% in March, the biggest gain since April 2010. Imports rose 12.8% y/y for the third straight rise following the 5.8% gain last month. April's gain came on the back of higher exports of automobiles, chip-making equipment and auto parts along with better base comparisons to April 2020.

Japan posted a trade surplus of JPY255.3 billion, a third straight positive number but below the JPY 662.2 billion seen in March. April exports of automobiles posted the second straight rise, up 88.9% following +11.2% in March and exports of chip-making equipment rose 79.1% in April, also accelerating from +18.1% in March.

Exports to China, Japan's largest trading partner, rose 33.9% y/y in April for the 10th straight rise and followed a 37.2% gain in March, thanks to strong demand for chip-making equipment, cars and capital goods. Exports of chip-making equipment surged 132.1% y/y in April and exports of automobiles rose 80.1%.

Exports to the U.S. rose 45.1% in April, with exports of automobiles to the U.S. surged 117.6% as makers had increased their inventories and exports of machinery rose 24.4% in April.

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