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--BOJ Data: Apr Real Export Index +5.2% M/M Vs -2.0% in Mar
--BOJ Data: Q1 Real Export Index +0.5% Q/Q Vs +1.7% in Q4
--MOF Data: Apr Exports +7.8% Y/Y Vs +2.1% in Mar 
By Hiroshi Inoue
     TOKYO (MNI) - Japan's real export index calculated by the Bank of Japan
posted the first rise in three months in April, leading BOJ officials to expect
solid exports based on global demand in the second quarter, MNI understands.
     Trade data showed that global demand for Japanese automobiles and capital
goods used for investment in equipment remained solid, the BOJ views.
     In the monetary policy statement to be issued after the bank's June 14-15
meeting, BOJ officials will maintain their assessment that exports are expected
to continue their "moderate increasing trend" on the back of firm global
economic growth.
     Based on this and the BOJ's view that the Q2 GDP will rebound after the Q1
contraction, which BOJ officials believes was caused by a temporary slump in
consumption, the bank is expected to repeat in its June statement that the
Japanese economy will stay on a modest recovery track.
     The seasonally adjusted real export index calculated by the BOJ based on
the trade data released Monday by the Ministry of Finance showed a 5.2%
month-on-month rise in April, the first rise in three months after -2.0%
(revised from -1.9%) in March.
     In January-March, the real exports index rose 0.5% on quarter, the fifth
straight q/q rise following +1.7% in October-December 2017.
     MOF data showed that Japanese exports rose 7.8% on year in April, coming in
weaker than the MNI median economist forecast for an 8.7% rise. But it was the
17th straight year-on-year rise and the pace of increase accelerated from +2.1%
in March.
     Exports of Japanese automobiles to the world rose 15.3% on year in April,
accelerating from +5.4% in March, the MOF data showed.
     Shipments of automobiles to the U.S., which account for about 40% of total
Japanese auto exports, rose 10.0% on year in April after a 3.2% rise in March,
while those to the European Union, with a 12 % share of total Japanese auto
exports, gained 24.1% after an 8.7% fall in March.
     The U.S. demand for sport utility vehicles made in Japan remains firm,
although the demand for Japanese sedans made in the U.S. has been flat, the BOJ
     The BOJ will release the details of its real trade indexes Thursday.
     BOJ officials have also confirmed continued firm overseas demand for
Japanese construction machines and power generating machines, which are used for
capital and housing investment.
     Exports of construction machines to the U.S. rose 29.9% on year in April,
up from +12.9% in March, according to the MOF data.
     The trade data also confirmed solid demand for Japanese chip-making
equipment in China (+116.3% on year in April vs. +72.7% in March) and in Asia
(+19.8% in April vs. +16.1% in March).
     On the other hand, the BOJ's real import index fell 0.7% on month in April
for the second straight fall following -6.9% in March.
     BOJ officials don't think the decline as a sign of showing weak domestic
demand but they are also carefully monitoring more data. The real import index
tends to fluctuate sharply from month to month.
     In the MOF data, 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.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-2175-0040; email:
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-4670-5309; email:
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