May 23, 2:30 AM EDT

Japan's economy appears to be sputtering as exports fell 10 percent and imports plunged 23 percent in April while a monthly survey of factory managers showed the sharpest deterioration in operating conditions in over three years


AP Photo
AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

Multimedia
Archery on horseback still draws crowd
Ainu Rebels reclaim cultural pride
Japanese defend whaling tradition
Japan deals with 'Minimata Disease'
Latest News
The leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized economies pledged to tackle major economic and political risks including terrorism, floods of refugees, climate change and cyberattacks

An engine fire broke out on a Korean Air jet about to take off from Tokyo and seven people may have been injured, an airport official said

The G-7 summit has released an action plan for countering terrorism and violent extremism to help close what it called "critical gaps" in capacity and international cooperation

The leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies have pledged to "collectively tackle" major risks to global growth, including direct political threats to the international order from terrorist attacks, violent extremism and refugee flows

An elephant that set off a petition drive to move her out of her concrete pen in a small zoo in Japan has died at age 69

Multimedia
A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
The European Union is launching a new effort to contain the so-called "grey economy" of undeclared and untaxed work

Puerto Rico's governor has lost a battle to increase a business-to-business tax and impose a transition to a value-added tax system amid an economic crisis

Smokers in New Zealand will pay $20 for a pack of cigarettes under the government's budget plan released Thursday

Canada's central bank said Wednesday the Canadian economy will shrink in the second quarter because of Alberta's devastating wildfires

Ratings agency S&P says vote to leave the European Union on June 23 could jeopardize pound's standing as a reserve currency

Brazil's acting president announces austerity measures aimed at pulling Latin America's largest economy from its worst crisis in decades, warning that a failure to act will mean "extraordinary hardship" for future generations

Cuba says it will legalize small and medium-sized private businesses, a move that could significantly expand the space allowed for private enterprise in one of the world's last communist countries

A closely watched survey of German investor confidence has dipped unexpectedly because of concerns such as uncertainty over whether Britain will vote to leave the European Union

Mixed economic signals emerged Monday about the state of the eurozone economy

Japan's economy appears to be sputtering as exports fell 10 percent and imports plunged 23 percent in April while a monthly survey of factory managers showed the sharpest deterioration in operating conditions in over three years

Interactives
Greece's Debt Threatens to Spread
State budget
gaps map
Auto industry problems trickle down, punish Tennessee county
Women give old Derby hats a makeover in tough economy
S.C. town deals with highest unemployment in South
How mortgages were bundled and sold as securities
Tracking the $700 billion financial bailout
Tracking the year's job losses
State-by-state foreclosures since 2007
Credit crisis explained
Presidents and their economic legacies
Lexicon of the financial crisis
Americans' addiction to debt

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's economy appears to be weakening as exports fell 10 percent and imports plunged 23 percent in April while a monthly survey of factory managers showed the sharpest deterioration in operating conditions in over three years.

Customs figures released Monday show Japan posted a trade surplus of 823 billion yen ($9.1 billion) in April, compared with a deficit of 58.3 billion yen a year earlier.

A stronger yen exaggerated the drop in exports, but shipments fell in volume terms, too. The declines were seen in key industries, such as industrial machinery and vehicles.

The biggest drop in imports was a 49 percent decline in purchases of oil, gas and other fossil fuels. But imports of electrical machinery, food, raw materials and chemicals also fell.

Meanwhile, the key figure in a monthly survey of factory managers fell to 47.6 in May from 48.2 in April. A reading of 50 marks the line between contraction and expansion.

Economists said the latest data suggest exports will fall further in the current quarter.

"The slump in export prices will remain a drag on export values for a while yet, undermining corporate profits and business sentiment," said Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics.

Japan's trade with China sank 38 percent in April from a year earlier, with exports falling 7.6 percent and imports tumbling nearly 17 percent.

Exports to the U.S., Japan's largest overseas market, dropped almost 12 percent from a year earlier, though shipments to the European Union climbed nearly 10 percent.

Exports to Asian markets, including China and Southeast Asian countries, which account for just over half of the total, dropped 11 percent.

The financial newspaper Nikkei's preliminary, or "flash," purchasing managers index showed declines in new orders, output and purchases.

Amy Brownbill, an economist at Markit, which compiles the survey, said an earthquake in April in southern Japan's Kumamoto region contributed to the slowdown.

"One of the primary reasons for the fall in total new orders was a marked contraction in foreign demand, which saw the sharpest fall in over three years," she said.

---

Follow Elaine Kurtenbach: www.twitter.com/ekurtenbach

http://bigstory.ap.org/content/elaine-kurtenbach

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.