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--BOJ Data: Mar Real Trade Index -1.9% M/M Vs. -1.0% in Feb
--BOJ Data: Q1 Real Trade Index +0.5% on Qtr Vs.+1.7% in Q4
--MOF Data: Mar Exports +2.1% Y/Y Vs. +1.8% in Feb 
By Hiroshi Inoue
     TOKYO (MNI) - Japan's real export index for the January-March period slowed
from the previous quarter but Bank of Japan officials maintain their view that
exports are on a gradual rising trend based on solid global demand.
     Global financial markets remain volatile but BOJ officials see their impact
on the real global economy being limited, and expect a pickup in both exports
and production, which will lead a modest recovery in the domestic economy.
     BOJ officials gave the global economy and demand prediction based on the
International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook. The IMF maintained its
solid global economic growth outlook. The IMF's WEO released on Tuesday showed
that world output is expected to rise by 3.9% in both 2018 and 2019, a slightly
faster pace than the 3.8% rise in 2017.
     The global economy is facing uncertainties and risks but the BOJ expects
global demand to remain solid in or after April, a person who is familiar with
BOJ thinking said.
     BOJ officials note trade figures tend to fluctuate sharply month to month
in the January-March quarter due to the impact of the Lunar New Year holidays in
China, the key export market for Japanese chip-making machines and electronics
parts.
     --REAL EXPORTS DOWN
     The seasonally adjusted real export index calculated by the BOJ based on
the trade data released Wednesday by the Ministry of Finance showed a 1.9% m/m
fall in March, the second straight drop after -1.0% (revised up from -2.1%) in
February. The BOJ Wednesday conducted a revision of seasonally-adjusted data for
real export and real import indexes.
     In January-March, the real exports index rose 0.5% q/q, the fourth straight
rise following +1.7% in October-December 2017.
     MOF data showed Japanese exports rose 2.1% y/y in March, marking the 16th
straight year-on-year rise, with the pace of increase accelerating from +1.8% in
February. 
     BOJ officials see demand for Japan's metalworking machinery and
construction machines in the European Union and Asia remaining solid on the back
of firm capital spending in those areas.
     The MOF data showed that exports of metalworking machinery to the EU rose
41.0% y/y and exports of construction machines to the EU rose 39.6% y/y in March
following +38.5% in February.
     Exports of construction machines to the EU rose 39.6% y/y in March
following the 18.8% increase in February. 
     --SOLID AUTO EXPORTS
     Exports of Japanese automobiles to the world rose 5.4% y/y in March,
slowing from +15.7% in February but indicating global demand remained solid, the
MOF data showed.
     Shipments of automobiles to the U.S., which accounts for about 40% of total
Japanese auto exports, rose 3.2% y/y in March after a 12.3% rise in February,
while those to the EU, with a 12.0% share of total Japanese auto exports, fell
8.7% following a 39.3% rise in February.
     The BOJ will release the details of its real trade indexes Monday.
     The BOJ's real import index fell 6.9% m/m in March, the first drop in two
months after 4.9% growth in February.
     The real import index in the first quarter gained 0.5% q/q for the second
straight month following a 2.4% increase in October-December.
     Imports fell 0.6% y/y in March for the first time in 15 months after the
16.6% growth in February, which was led by decreased purchases of clothing, coal
and fish and shellfish, the MOF data showed.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-2175-0040; email: hiroshi.inoue@marketnews.com
--MNI Beijing Bureau; tel: +86 (10) 8532-5998; email: flora.guo@marketnews.com
--MNI Singapore Bureau; +65 8233 2326; email: Asia-Editor@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MMJBJI,MAJDS$,MMJBJ$,M$A$$$,M$J$$$,MT$$$$,MX$$$$]

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