Ministry of Finance (MOF) data on Thursday showed Japan’s exports fell 21.9 percent in April year-on-year as US-bound shipments slumped 37.8percent, the fastest decline since 2009, with car exports there plunging 65.8 percent. The fall was the biggest since October 2009 during the global financial crisis, but slightly less than a 22.7 percent decrease seen by economists in a Reuters poll. Exports fell 11.7 percent in March. “Reopening of trade with China led China-bound exports of electronics parts and imports of masks and PC, but trade with Europe, America and Southeast Asia remain shrunk,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.
“It’s still far from fully-fledged resumption of economic activity. As exports and imports remain stagnant for a prolonged period of time, global trade will remain contractionary for the time being.”
Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, fell 4.1 percent in the year to April, due to slumping demand for chemical materials, car parts and medicines.
Shipments to Asia, which account for more than half of Japanese exports, declined 11.4 percent, and exports to the European Union fell 28.0 percent.
Other trade-reliant economies in Asia have also been hit with data on Thursday showing South Korea’s exports slumping by a fifth in the first 20 days of May, year-on-year.
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5.50am update: Asia shares temper rally as China policy meeting awaits
Asian shares stepped back slightly and US stock futures fell on Thursday as lingering caution about the long-term impact of the coronavirus outbreak offset some of this week’s enthusiasm over re-opening of economies.
Investors were also looking ahead to a key policy gathering in China that may yield more economic stimulus, while recent data around the world underscored that a sustainable recovery is several months away.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up just 0.04 percent, having rallied around 3% so far this week. S&P 500 e-mini stock futures fell 0.66 percent.
Broad risk appetite has been checked somewhat by escalating tensions between the United States and China due to President Donald Trump’s criticism of Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Australian shares , which have been hampered by concerns about a trade row with China, pulled back slightly from a two-month high.