Japan saw a merchandise trade balance of 82.4 billion yen in February, the Ministry of Finance said on Wednesday, marking the first surplus in five months. The February figure came in better than expectations for a 13.7 billion yen deficit following the revised record 956.9 billion yen shortfall in January. The original figure came in at -952.6 billion yen.

Exports plummeted by a record 49.9 percent on year to 3.525 trillion yen, the data showed, falling for the fifth consecutive month. That was worse than forecasts that had predicted an annual decline of 47.6 percent after the 45.7 percent fall in January.

Imports fell 43.0 percent on year to 3.443 trillion yen, declining for the fourth straight month. Analysts had expected a fall of 38.4 percent on year after the revised 31.9 percent decline in the previous month.

Energy sources were a major factor for the decline in imports. Japan imported 18.9 million kiloliters or 4.26 million barrels per day in February, the ministry said, down 13.9 percent on year. The crude import bill was 485 billion yen in February, the data showed, down 64.7 percent on year. Coal imports were 12.65 million tons in February, down 14.2 percent on year. LNG imports stood at 5.25 million tons, down an annual 9.5 percent. Naphtha and gasoline imports came in at 1.37 million kiloliters, lower by 34.9 percent on year.

Japan saw a surplus of 375.7 billion yen in trade with the rest of Asia, down 58.9 percent on year. With China alone, Japan posted a surplus of 13.5 billion yen.

With the United States, Japan saw a trade surplus of 146.2 billion yen, down an annual 79 percent while marking the largest decline ever in both imports and exports.

Japan also saw a trade surplus with Europe of 96.9 billion yen, down 81.6 percent on year thanks to the sharpest decline on record for exports.

The adjusted trade balance reflected a surplus of 43.3 billion yen versus expectations for a 297.8 billion yen deficit after the 364.9 billion yen shortfall in January.

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