TOKYO Japan's exports were expected to rise at the fastest rate in more than two years in May, a Reuters poll showed on Friday, suggesting foreign demand is supporting a moderate economic recovery.
Exports were seen rising 16.1 percent in May from a year ago, up for a sixth straight month and the strongest gain since a 16.9 percent jump in January 2015, the poll of 19 economists found.
Japan's exports and factory output have benefited from a pick-up in overseas demand, and the Bank of Japan has upgraded its assessment of private consumption and overseas growth, signaling its confidence that an export-driven economic recovery was broadening and gaining momentum.
"The global economy is recovering, led by a pickup in emerging economies. The rising trend in exports will likely continue this year," said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.
Imports are expected to be up 14.8 percent from a year earlier, up for a fifth straight month, and boosted by rising liquefied natural gas, coal and oil prices.
"Oil price gains increased import costs. In addition to that, the domestic economy is solid which also contributed to import growth," Minami added.
Nonetheless, Japan is likely to post a trade surplus of 76.0 billion yen ($683.64 million) in May, the poll found.
The finance ministry will announce the trade data at 8:50 a.m. Tokyo time on Monday (2350 GMT Sunday.)
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Eric Meijer)