For the 21st straight month, Japan reported a current-account surplus, mainly because of cheap energy imports.

New Honda cars awaiting export in Yokohama
New Honda cars awaiting export in Yokohama

The Ministry of Finance reported Thursday that the excess in the widest measure of the nation’s trade was 2.98 trillion yen ($27.5 billion) in March, up from 2.43 trillion yen in February, for a 6.9% increases year over year.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a surplus of 2.97 trillion yen for March.

Japan’s trade surplus has received a boost in recent months from cheap energy exports, an influx of tourists from overseas and income from investments abroad. However, growth continues to slow on export weakness and a decline in domestic demand. On top of that the stronger yen is hurting profits at corporate giants, such as Toyota Motor.

“Japan is likely to keep its current account surplus for a while,” Atsushi Takeda, an economist at Itochu in Tokyo, told Bloomberg. “Still, the pace of expansion in the surplus may slow in coming months with a pickup in oil prices and a strong yen which has impacts on trade, profits and the number of tourists.”

In early trading in Tokyo Thursday, the yen traded at 108.40 per dollar

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