Japan's export growth slows for eighth straight month

Japanese cars
Image caption Japan's exports to China grew sharply

Japan's export growth has slowed for the eighth month in a row, raising further questions about the strength of the country's economic recovery.

Exports grew 7.8% in October, the finance ministry said, a little over half the 14.3% posted in September, and well below analysts' expectations.

Japanese exporters have suffered from the strong yen, which makes their goods more expensive overseas.

Exports to Europe fell, reflecting slower economic growth in the region.

This was the first time exports to Europe had fallen for almost a year. Export growth to the US also slowed.

However, China's booming economy - Japan's biggest export market - provided a timely boost, with exports to the country up 17.5%.

Economic growth

The fortunes of Japanese exporters will depend to some degree on the strength of the recovery in the US and Europe, analysts say.

"Japan's exports could recover in the first or second quarter of next year in line with the inventory cycle," said Kiichi Murashima at Citigroup Global Markets.

"If sovereign debt problems spread in Europe it could be a risk. However, currency markets are stable so there is less pressure."

Japan's economy expanded faster than expected between July and September, but much of the growth was due to one-off factors.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) was 0.9% during the third quarter, up from 0.4% in April to June.

Analysts said the growth was fuelled by sales of green cars before the end of government subsidies, and smokers buying cigarettes before a tax rise.

Growth is expected to be weaker in the last quarter due to reduced exports.

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