Japan's trade deficit widened sharply in April, as export growth was tepid while imports surged, according to Finance Ministry data released Wednesday. The trade gap grew to 880 billion yen ($8.6 billion) from March's Û364 billion deficit, as exports rose just 3.8% from a year earlier, well below Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters forecasts for a gain of 5% and 5.9%, respectively. Dow Jones had tipped the deficit at Û666.75 billion, while the Reuters survey of economists had forecast a Û621.1 billion shortfall in the trade account. Imports surged 9.4%, well above a 6.7% projected rise from the Reuters poll. The results marked the 10th monthly trade deficit in a row, which Reuters said was the longest such run since 1979-1980, when oil prices spiked amid the Iranian revolution. Exports to China managed to creep 0.3% higher, but shipments to the U.S. spiked 14.8%. European Union-bound exports fell 3.5%. The yen weakened slightly after the data, as the dollar rose to Û102.43 from Û102.35 jus...
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