Japan December exports rise 5.4 percent year/year: MOF

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A worker rides a bicycle past containers at a port in Tokyo August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo (Copyright Reuters 2017)

Japan's exports rose 5.4 percent in December from a year earlier, posting the first gain in 15 months, government data showed on Wednesday, reflecting a pick-up in global demand and effects of a weaker yen.

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The rise in the value of exports compared with a 1.2 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. It followed a 0.4 percent year-on-year decline in November, the Ministry of Finance data showed.

Imports fell 2.6 percent in December, versus the median estimate for a 0.8 percent decrease.

That brought the trade balance to 641.4 billion yen ($5.63 billion) in the black, versus the median estimate for a 270 billion yen surplus. It was the fourth straight month of surplus.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)