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MNI (London)
--Japan March Exports Fall -2.4% Y/Y After -1.2% In February
     TOKYO (MNI) - Japan's exports fell again in March, posting a fourth
straight drop, indicating exports continue to be hit by slowing global demand,
with Bank of Japan officials watchful over the outlook.
     BOJ officials are looking at how recovering domestic demand in China will
boost Japan's exports of capital goods, automobiles and electronic parts and
devices this month to see whether examine the exports have bottomed.
     Exports, a main driver for Japan's economy, fell 2.4% on year in March
following a 1.2% decline in February, beating the MNI median forecast of a 2.7%
fall, led by lower exports steels, auto parts and optical equipment.
     Exports to China fell 9.4% on year in March following a gain of 5.6% in
February.
     Exports of metal working machinery, optical equipment and chip-making
equipment fell, indicating that the impact of the recovering China's economy on
Japan's exports was limited.
     --BOJ OUTLOOK
     At the latest policy-setting meeting in March, the BOJ board lowered its
assessment, saying, "exports have shown some weakness recently."
     The previous assessment was exports are on an increasing trend."
     Imports rose 1.1% on year in March, below the MNI median forecast for a
3.0% rise. It was the first rise in three months following a 6.6% fall in
February, led by higher imports of aircraft, clothing and accessories and
liquefied natural gas.
     January's trade balance was a surplus of Y528.5 billion in March, higher
than the MNI median forecast for a Y350.0 billion surplus in February. It was
the second straight surplus following a surplus of 335.0 billion in February.
     The next piece of data for officials is the BOJ's real trade indexes for
March, due at 1400JST (0500 GMT), with the real export index develops key. The
index rose 6.0% on month in February, for the first rise in two months following
-5.3% in February.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-2175-0040; email: hiroshi.inoue@marketnews.com
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email: les.commons@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MMJBJ$,M$A$$$,M$J$$$]
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com