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
President Barack Obama's visit to Hiroshima later this week _ the first sitting American president to do so _ is stirring very different reactions from survivors on opposite sides of the Pacific

An American held by Japan as a prisoner of war in World War II and forced to work in a copper mine has been invited to accompany President Barack Obama on his historic visit to Hiroshima this week

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

The Group of Seven major economies have agreed to more aggressive action to fight financing of terrorism

Japan's prime minister expressed his "strong indignation" after an American working on a U.S. military base in Okinawa was arrested on suspicion of abandoning the body of a missing woman

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
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

Brazil's acting president announced several belt-tightening measures aimed at pulling Latin America's largest economy from crisis

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

Puerto Rico's governor has unveiled a stark budget that sets aside more than $200 million for a critical bond payment as the U.S. territory sinks into a deep economic crisis

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

After emerging from a three-year, multi-billion euro rescue program, Cyprus boasts one of the highest economic growth rates among the 19 eurozone countries _ an annual rate of 2.7 percent in the first quarter

Mexico is lowering its economic growth forecast for 2016, citing what it calls "adverse" international conditions including sluggish industrial production in the United States

French Sports Ministry estimates $1.3 billion boost to economy from hosting Euro 2016

The International Monetary Fund says it is lending $5.4 billion over three years to Iraq, which has been hit hard by falling oil prices

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.