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Japan's Oct. current account surplus posts biggest fall in 21 months

This file photo taken on Feb. 18, 2017, shows containers at a terminal at Yokohama's Hommoku wharf. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's current account surplus posted the largest on-year drop in 21 months in October, as higher prices of imported oil limited the impact of growth in exports, government data showed Monday.

The world's third economy logged a current account surplus of 1.31 trillion yen ($11.65 billion) in October, down 40.1 percent from the same month last year.

It was the fourth consecutive month of decline and the steepest fall since January 2017, when the surplus sagged 88.9 percent.

Still, the current account surplus, one of the widest gauges of international trade, marked the 52nd straight month of black ink, underpinned by earnings from foreign investments.

Among key components, the country had a goods trade deficit of 321.7 billion yen and a services trade deficit of 233.0 billion yen, according to a preliminary report released by the Finance Ministry.

Higher crude oil prices and a rise in imports of liquefied natural gas helped raise Japan's imports 20.5 percent from a year earlier to 7.41 trillion yen in the month.

Exports stood at 7.09 trillion yen, up 7.7 percent from the previous year, lifted by an increase in shipments of autos, motors and electronics parts including semiconductors.

The services trade deficit of 233.0 billion yen was wider than a deficit of 22.3 billion yen a year earlier, due in part to a rise in overseas research and development spending by Japanese companies.

In services trade, however, the travel surplus reached 183.5 billion yen, the largest for the month of October, as inbound travelers rose 1.8 percent from a year earlier to 2.64 million visitors in October.

"The travel surplus has marked a recovery after falling in September due to a string of natural disasters" including a powerful typhoon that shut down Osaka's main airport, a Finance Ministry official said.

Primary income, which reflects returns on overseas investments, registered a surplus of 2.05 trillion yen, the highest for the month of October.

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