April 15, 2016 / 5:57 AM / 4 years ago

Japan's exports seen down for six straight month in March

A laborer works in a container area at a port in Tokyo, Japan, March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s exports were expected to fall for a six straight month in March, a Reuters poll found on Friday, suggesting a strong yen and stagnant overseas demand may be delaying economic recovery.

Tuesday’s trade data will be one of the key indicators out this month to provide clues to whether the economy managed to avert recession in the first quarter after contracting in the last quarter of 2015.

Exports were seen likely to drop 6.9 percent in March from a year ago, the poll of 18 analysts showed, after a 4.0 percent fall in February.

Imports were expected to decline 16.2 percent last month from a year earlier, recording a 15th consecutive fall, as energy-related prices slumped.

This would result in a trade surplus of 834.6 billion yen (£5.37 billion) and two straight surplus months.

“Global risk aversion behaviour is persistent and the U.S. rate hikes this year will likely be less than previously expected, which pushed yen higher despite the BOJ’s negative interest rates. This accelerated year-on-year falls in export and import prices,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute in a report.

“Emerging economies in Asia such as China are slowing down and global trade as a whole remains sluggish.”

The finance ministry will publish the trade data at 8:50 a.m. on April 20 (2350 GMT April 19).

Japan’s economy contracted an annualised 1.1 percent in October-December and there are worries that the economy may shrink again in the first quarter of this year. The government will announce January-March growth data in mid-May.

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Eric Meijer

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