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Japan Trade Surplus Rises - 2002-10-11


Japan's current account surplus jumped 49-percent in August from a year earlier, to more than $8 billion . Japans Finance Ministry says this was the 11th monthly increase in a row.

The current account surplus is the broadest measure of the nations trade with the rest of the world. It measures trade in goods, services, tourism and investment.

The figures reflect rising exports to Asia and other overseas markets, especially for semiconductors. However, exports to the Unites States, Japan's largest trading partner, dropped more than five-percent, raising concerns that Japans export-led recovery could be nearing its end.

In the auto sector, Honda Motor has launched a remodeled version of its Accord sedan to combat sluggish sales. This is the seventh-generation model, and Japan's number two automaker aims to sell 60,000 units in the domestic market annually.

Hondas President Hiroyuki Yoshino said the new sedan has better energy efficiency than the previous models. He believes that this will lead to better growth in the latter half of the business year.

The latest version has high-technology features, including a voice-activated navigation system. The company hopes that it will help draw consumers despite the national economic slump and a trend towards buying smaller, cheaper cars.

In earnings news, the country's second-largest retail group reported record sales and profits for the first half of the fiscal year. Aeon earned a net profit of $16 million, marking a turnaround from a huge loss in the same period last year.

The company attributes its healthy performance to growth at regional supermarkets, and improved sales of inexpensive general merchandise.

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