Japan's export gains widen in November before Omicron emergence

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) – Gains in Japan’s exports widened in November for the first time since May in a sign global trade was regaining traction before the Omicron coronavirus variant began to spread.

The value of Japan’s overseas shipments rose 20.5 per cent from a year earlier, up from an increase of 9.4 per cent in October, the Finance Ministry reported on Thursday (Dec 16).

Economists had expected a gain of 21 per cent. On a seasonally adjusted basis, exports advanced 5.3 per cent from the previous month.

Improved Japanese trade adds to signs that the global economy was on a solid footing even as supply chain snarls persisted. At home, higher vaccination rates and falling infection cases have allowed the government to lift virus emergency measures, helping restaurants and other services to get back on track.

But the spread of the Omicron variant in late November now clouds the outlook to some extent, as countries limit access to travellers and weigh whether to reinstate domestic restrictions.

Supply constrains also continue to affect manufacturers, with Toyota Motor cutting production again this month because of part shortages.

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