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Japan’s export and import growth revved up in March, with the former marking a fourth straight month of expansion and a stronger yen helping the latter notch its fastest rise in more than three years.

The value of Japan’s exports grew 12 per cent year on year last month, according to Japan’s Ministry of Finance, coming in far above a median estimate of 6.7 per cent from economists surveyed by Reuters and edging higher from February’s rise of 11.3 per cent.

The value of exports to China rose 16.4 per cent year on year after jumping to 28.2 per cent in February, while shipments to all of Asia rose 16.3 per cent after accelerating to 20.9 per cent a month prior. But exports to the US saw marked improvement with growth of 3.4 per cent after barely exiting contraction in February with a rise 0.4 per cent.

The recovery for growth in outbound shipments came as the yen ended last month firmer against the dollar, strengthening 1.2 per cent over the course of March to around ¥111.4.

That helped the value of Japan’s imports jump 15.8 per cent year on year last month after expanding only 1.2 per per cent in February. That was the quickest clip since March 2014.

Inbound shipments from Asia rose 10.5 per cent after falling 8 per cent the previous month, as those from China rebounded to growth of 10.3 per cent from a fall of 17.7 per cent. Imports from the US jumped to growth of 16.3 per cent after contracting 0.7 per cent in February.

Those flows shook out to a trade surplus of ¥614.7bn ($5.6bn), down from February’s level but coming in above a median forecast of ¥575bn to mark a second month in the black after January’s deficit snapped a five-month streak of surpluses.

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