Wednesday, Japan trade balance swung to surplus in February after showing deficits in past four months. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan is placing its policy priority on securing market stability and facilitating corporate financing, given the current uncertain economic situations, the central bank's deputy governor Hirohide Yamaguchi said.

Japan's Ministry of Finance said the country saw a merchandise trade balance of JPY 82.4 billion yen in February, the first surplus in five months. The February figure came in better than the expectations for a JPY 13.7 billion deficit following the revised record JPY 956.9 billion yen shortfall in January.

Exports plummeted by a record 49.4% on-year to JPY 3.525 trillion, the data showed, falling for the fifth consecutive month. Imports fell 43% on-year to JPY 3.443 trillion yen, declining for the fourth straight month.

Japan imported 18.9 million kiloliters or 4.26 million barrels per day in February, the Ministry of Finance said. It was down 13.9% on-year. The crude import bill was JPY 485 billion in February, down 64.7% year-on-year.

Addressing business leaders in Otaru, BoJ deputy governor Yamaguchi said, Japan's economic and financial conditions will likely continue to be severe. In this situation, the Bank's policy priority will be placed, for the time being, on securing market stability and facilitating corporate financing -- the second and third main areas of the Bank's conduct of monetary policy.

South Korea's composite consumer sentiment index declined to 84 in March from 85 in the previous month, a report by the Bank of Korea showed.

The Philippines imports declined 34.5% annually in January compared to a 34% drop in the previous month, the National Statistics Office said. Meanwhile, total exports fell 40.6% year-on-year to US$ 2.51 billion in January. The trade deficit declined slightly to US$ 759 million from US$ 762 million in the previous year.

Malaysia's leading index, a measure of economic performance in the next few months, declined 0.4% in January to 157.3 points, a report by the Department of Statistics said.

Data released by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority showed that the value of new residential mortgage loans drawn down increased 15.7% month-on-month in February, reversing the 15% drop in January. The value of new loans drawn down increased to HK$ 7.1 billion from HK$ 6.1 billion in the previous month.

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