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Japan logs first monthly trade surplus in almost three years

General view of a container terminal at Tokyo port, pictured on April 22, 2015Japan posted its first monthly trade surplus in almost three years on Wednesday as North American exports soared and energy bills fell, giving a psychological boost to Tokyo’s bid to revive the flagging economy. Finance ministry data showed exports rose 8.5 percent while imports fell 14.5 percent, leaving a surplus of 229.3 billion yen ($1.9 billion), the first time Japan’s trade balance has been in the black since June 2012. The stronger-than-expected figures come after a string of weak data raised doubts about the health of the world’s number-three economy, and as Tokyo and Washington emerged on Tuesday from marathon talks on a Pacific-wide free trade area saying they were close to a deal. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is hoping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — which includes a dozen nations accounting for 40 percent of the global economy — will help him push through reforms to a protected agricultural sector, a key element in his wider bid to stimulate growth.

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