Japan recorded a trade deficit in October as exports dropped off more steeply than expected while imports rose on higher fuel costs, government data showed Monday.
Japan had a deficit of 273.8 billion yen ($3.6 billion), reversing a year-before surplus of 812.6 billion yen.
Economists had expected a surplus of 55.6 billion yen, according to a survey by Dow Jones Newswires and the Nikkei daily.
Exports fell 3.7 percent to 5.51 trillion yen, the first drop in three months. The decline was steeper than a 1.7 percent fall the market had expected.
The country returned to a trade surplus in September as auto production recovered to levels before the devastating March earthquake and tsunami hit output.
But exports have been hurt by slowing global demand and the yen’s appreciation to record levels since World War II.
Exports to Thailand fell 5.1 percent in October in the aftermath of massive floods there.
Overall imports rose 17.9 percent to 5.79 trillion yen, logging a yea-on-year rise for the 22th consecutive month on higher oil and gas costs.
Japan suffered a trade deficit of 228.9 billion yen with China in a turnaround of the year-before surplus of 45.9 billion yen.
With the European Union, the trade surplus dived 47.1 percent to 100.2 billion yen, the lowest since 1979 for the month of October.
The trade surplus with the United States fell 14.5 percent to 389.5 billion yen.