Tuesday December 27 2016
Japan Unemployment Rate Up To 3.1% In November
Statistics Japan l Yekaterina Guchshina | yekaterina@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in Japan rose to 3.1 percent in November of 2016, from 3 percent in the previous month and above market expectations of 3 percent. The jobs-to-applicants ratio increased to 1.41 percent from 1.4 percent, hitting a new high since July 1991.

Compared to the previous month, there were 2.05 million unemployed persons, higher than 1.97 October; employment declined by 110 thousand to 64.44 million and labour force also fell by 3 thousand to 66.51 million. Those detached from the labour force remained mostly unchanged at 44 million.

Among people aged 15 to 24 years old, the jobless rate fell to 4.3 percent from 5.1 percent.

A year earlier, unemployment was higher at 3.3 percent.




Monday December 26 2016
Japan Inflation Rate At 1-1/2-Year High Of 0.5%
Statistics Japan l Yekaterina Guchshina | yekaterina@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Japan increased 0.5 percent year-on-year in November of 2016, following 0.1 percent growth in the previous month. It is the highest inflation rate since May 2015, boosted by higher fresh food prices. However, core consumer prices which exclude fresh food went down 0.4 percent, the ninth straight month of annual declines and worse than market expectations of 0.3 percent drop.

Year-on-year, food prices went up 3.6 percent, following a 2.3 percent increase in October. It is the biggest rise since March 2015, boosted by an 21.6 percent jump in fresh food cost, namely a 37.3 percent rise in fresh vegetables and a 12.7 percent increase in fresh fruit. Inflation eased for recreation and culture (0.8 percent compared to 1 percent in October); medical care (0.9 percent from 1 percent) and clothing and footwear (1 percent from 1.2 percent in October).

In addition, prices declined at a slower pace for fuel, light and water charges (-5.8 percent compared to -6 percent in October) and transportation and communication (-1.5 percent compared to -1.7 percent in October) but fell at the same pace for housing (-0.2 percent).

On a monthly basis, consumer prices were flat, following a 0.6 percent gain in October. 

In Tokyo, consumer prices remained unchanged, following a 0.5 percent gain in November. Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, declined 0.6 percent from a year earlier, following a 0.4 percent drop in a month earlier and worse than market estimates of 0.4 percent drop. 




Tuesday December 20 2016
BoJ Leaves Monetary Policy Unchanged
Bank of Japan l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

The Bank of Japan left the interest rate unchanged at -0.1 percent at its December 2016 meeting, as widely expected. Policymakers also decided to maintain its 10-years government bond yield target around zero percent and viewed a moderate recovery trend in the economy had continued while exports had picked up.

With regard to the amount of JGBs to be purchased, the Bank will conduct buying at more or less the current pace -- an annual pace of increase of about 80 trillion yen.

The Policy Board also decided by a 7-2 vote to purchase exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Japan real estate investment trusts (J-REITs) so that their amounts outstanding will increase at an annual paces of about JPY 6.0 trillion and about JPY 90 billion, respectively. As for CP and corporate bonds, the Bank will maintain their amounts outstanding at about 2.2 trillion yen and about 3.2 trillion yen respectively.  

Excerpts from the Statement by the Bank of Japan:

Japan's economy has continued its moderate recovery trend. Overseas economies have continued to grow at moderate pace, although emerging economies remain sluggish in part. In this situation, exports have picked up. On the domestic demand side, business fixed investment has been on a moderate increasing trend as corporate profits have been at high levels and business sentiment has improved somewhat. Against the background of steady improvement in the employment and income situation, private consumption has been resilient and housing investment has resumed its pick-up. In the meantime, public investment has been more or less flat. Reflecting these  moderate increases in demand both at home and abroad and the progress in inventory adjustments, industrial production has picked up. Financial conditions are highly accommodative. On the price front, the year-on-year rate of change in the consumer price index (CPI, all items less fresh food) has been slightly negative. Inflation expectations have remained in a weakening phase.

With regard to the outlook, Japan's economy is likely to turn to a moderate expansion. Domestic demand is likely to follow an uptrend, with a virtuous cycle from income to spending being maintained in both the household and corporate sectors, on the back of highly accommodative financial conditions and fiscal spending through the government's large scale stimulus measures. Exports are expected to follow a moderate increasing trend on the back of an improvement in overseas economies. The year-on-year rate of change in the CPI is likely to be slightly negative or about 0 percent for the time being, due to the effects of the decline in energy prices, and as the output gap improves and medium-to long-term inflation expectations rise, it is expected to increase toward 2 percent.

Risks to the outlook include the following: developments in the US economy and the impact of its monetary policy on global financial markets; the consequences stemming from the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union (EU) and their efects; prospects regarding the European debt problem, including the financial sector, and geopolitical risks.

The Bank will continue with "Quantitative and Qualitative Monetary Easing (QQE) with a Negative Interest Rate," aiming to achieve the price stability target of 2 percent, as long as it is necessary for maintaining that target in a stable manner. It will continue expanding the monetary base until the year-on-year rate of increase in the observed CPI (all items less fresh food) exceeds 2 percent and stays above the target in a stable manner. The Bank will make policy adjustments as appropriate, taking account of developments in economc activity and prices as well as financial conditions, with a view to maintaining the momentum toward achieving the price stability target.




Monday December 19 2016
Japan Trade Balance Swings to Surplus In November
Yekaterina Guchshina | yekaterina@tradingeconomics.com

Japan recorded a JPY 153 billion trade surplus in November of 2016, compared to JPY 387 billion deficit a year earlier but lower than market expectations of JPY 227.4 billion surplus. Exports declined 0.4 percent year-on-year, 14th consecutive drop but less than expectations of an 2 percent fall. Imports shrank 8.8 percent compared to forecasts of a 12.6 percent decrease.

Exports decreased to JPY 5956.5 billion. Sales went down mainly to Thailand (-9.5 percent); Philippines (-6.9 percent); Taiwan (-1.2 percent); India (-1.2 percent); the United States (-1.8 percent). In contrast, exports rose to China (+4.4 percent); South Korea (+11.9 percent); Singapore (-2.8 percent) and Malaysia (+5.9 percent). By product, declines were reported for transport equipment (-4.6 percent), namely cars (-7.4 percent); and manufactured goods (-6.4 percent), namely iron and steel products (-12.1 percent).

Imports went down to JPY 5804 billion. Purchases from China shrank 9.9 percent and those from the United States fell 5.1 percent. By product, mineral fuels accounted the most for the decline (-14.4 percent), namely petroleum (-14.4 percent). Also, imports fell for chemicals (-13.1 percent); manufactured goods (-8.7 percent) and electrical machinery (-9.1 percent). 




Thursday December 08 2016
Japan GDP Growth Revised Down to 0.3% in Q3
Cabinet Office | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The Japanese economy advanced 0.3 percent on quarter in the three months to September of 2016, below preliminary estimates of a 0.5 percent expansion. Domestic demand was flat and net trade contributed less to growth than initially estimated.

Domestic demand was flat (0.1 percent in the preliminary estimate) and showed no contribution to growth. Household consumption increased 0.3 percent (0 percent in the preliminary estimate) and private residential investment went up 2.6 percent (2.3 percent in the preliminary estimate) while non-residential investment shrank 0.4 percent (0 percent in the preliminary estimate). Public spending rose at a slower 0.3 percent (0.4 percent in the preliminary estimate) and public investment edged up 0.1 percent (-0.7 percent in the preliminary estimate).

Meanwhile, changes in inventories subtracted 0.3 percentage points from growth (-0.1 percentage points in the preliminary estimate).

External demand added 0.3 percentage points to growth (0.5 percent in the preliminary estimate), as exports of goods and services expanded 1.6 percent (2 percent in the preliminary estimate) while imports dropped 0.4 percent (-0.6 percent in the preliminary estimate).

On an annualised basis, Japan's economy grew 1.3 percent in the third quarter of 2016, lower than a 2.2 percent expansion in the preliminary reading.




Tuesday November 29 2016
Japan Unemployment Rate Unchanged at 3%
Statistics Japan l Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in Japan was steady at 3.0 percent in October of 2016, the same as in September and in line with market expectations. The jobs-to-applicants ratio rose to 1.4 percent from 1.38 percent, hitting a new high since August 1991.

Compared to the previous month, there were 1.97 million unemployed persons, 50 thousand less than in September; employment rose by 60 thousand to 64.55 million and labour force also rose by 40 thousand to 66.54 million. Those detached from the labour force fell by 20 thousand to 44.15 million.
 
Among people aged 15 to 24 years old, the jobless rate fell to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent.
 
A year earlier, unemployment was higher at 3.2 percent. 


Friday November 25 2016
Japanese Consumer Prices Rise For 1st Time in 8 Months
Statistics Japan l Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Japan increased 0.1 percent year-on-year in October of 2016. It is the first rise in eight months boosted by higher fresh food prices. However, core consumer prices which exclude fresh food went down 0.4 percent, the eighth straight month of anual declines and in line with expectations.

Year-on-year, food prices went up 2.3 percent, following a 0.6 percent increase in September. It is the biggest rise since March, boosted by an 11.4 percent jump in fresh food cost, namely a 16 percent rise in fresh vegetables and a 10.1 percent increase in fresh fruit. Inflation rose for recreation and culture (1 percent compared to 0.3 percent in September); was flat at 1 percent for medical care and eased to 1.2 percent for clothing and footwear (1.5 percent in September).
 
In addition, prices declined at a slower pace for fuel, light and water charges (- 6 percent compared to -6.2 percent in September) and transportation and communication (-1.7 percent compared to -2.1 percent in September) but fell faster for housing (-0.2 percent compared to -0.1 percent in each of the previous six months).
 
On a monthly basis, consumer prices rose 0.6 percent, following a 0.2 percent gain in September. It is the biggest increase since April of 2014.
 
In Tokyo, consumer prices rose 0.5 percent year-on-year in November, following a 0.1 percent gain in October while markets expected a 0.3 percent decline. Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, declined 0.4 percent from a year earlier, following a 0.4 percent drop in a month earlier and matching estimates. 


Monday November 21 2016
Japan Trade Surplus Widens Less Than Expected
Ministry of Finance l Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

Japan recorded a JPY 496.2 billion trade surplus in October of 2016, 373.5 percent higher than a JPY 104.8 billion surplus a year earlier but lower than market expectations of JPY 615 billion. Exports declined 10.3 percent year-on-year, 13th consecutive drop and much worse than expectations of an 8.6 percent fall. Imports shrank at a faster 16.5 percent compared to forecasts of a 16.3 percent decrease.

Exports decreased to JPY 5869.9 billion. Sales went down mainly to the United States (-11.2 percent); China (-9.2 percent); the European Union (-9.5 percent); South Korea (-4.6 percent) and Taiwan (-2.8 percent). By product, declines were reported for transport equipment (-9 percent), namely cars (-9.1 percent); machinery (-7.9 percent), namely metalworking (-26.9 percent), parts of computer (-17.3 percent) and power generating machines (-8.1 percent); electrical machinery (-10.9 percent), namely semiconductors (-7.1 percent) and manufactured goods (-15.2 percent), namely iron and steel products (-19.3 percent).
 
Imports went down to JPY 5373.7 billion. Purchases from China shrank 17.9 percent and those from the United States fell 9.9 percent. By product, mineral fuels accounted the most for the decline (fell 27.5 percent), namely petroleum (-27.2 percent). 


Thursday November 17 2016
Japan Unveils Bond-Buying Program
Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The Bank of Japan said it would buy an unlimited amount of government bonds with between one and five years left to maturity at a fixed price on Thursday November 17th. It is the first time the central bank unveils such operation which is part of its yield-curve-control program launched in the September monetary policy meeting when it said it wanted to keep the 10-year bond yield around zero percent.

The move aimed to defend the yield curve, following a bond sell-off after Trump's victory, with the 10-year JGB yield turning positive during the week.

On Thursday, no bonds were bought as the central bank offered to buy two-year bonds at a yield of -0.09 percent and five-year bonds at -0.04 percent, higher than Wednesday's market rates. However, the yield on the 10-year bond retreated slightly.


Monday November 14 2016
Japan Economy Grows 0.5% QoQ in Q3
Cabinet Office | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com

Japan's gross domestic product advanced 0.5 percent quarter-on-quarter in the three months to September of 2016, following a 0.2 percent expansion in the previous period and beating market expectations of a 0.2 percent gain, preliminary estimates showed. It was the third consecutive quarter of growth, boosted by exports, government spending and private residential investment while household consumption stalled.

Compared with the second quarter of the year, external demand added 0.5 percentage points to growth, as exports of goods and services expanded 2 percent (-1.5 percent in Q2) while imports dropped for the fourth straight quarter by 0.6 percent (the same as in Q2).

Domestic demand contributed with 0.1 percentage points, mainly boosted by a 2.3 percent advance in private residential investment (+5 percent in Q2) and a 0.4 percent gain in government consumption (-0.3 percent in Q2). By contrast, public investment fell 0.7 percent (+2.3 percent in Q2) while households' consumption showed no growth.

Meanwhile, changes in inventories subtracted 0.1 percentage points.

On an annualised basis, Japan's economy grew 2.2 percent in the third quarter of 2016, accelerating from a 0.7 percent expansion in the previous period and beating market expectations of 0.9 percent growth. It was the third straight quarter of expansion, led by external demand.