In March, sales increased by 12.0 percent year-on-year to JPY 7,229.1 billion, compared to a 11.3 percent gain in a month earlier while market expected a 6.7 percent rise. It was the fourth straight month of increase and the fastest since January 2015, as sales went up for all commodities: manufactured goods (10.5 percent, namely iron and steel products: 15.6 percent, non-ferrous metals: 17.5 percent and rubber manufactured: 6.5 percent), machinery (14.0 percent, namely power generating machine: 13.5 percent, parts of computers: 16.3 percent, construction machines: 11.9 percent and heating or cooling machine: 18.9 percent), electrical machinery (10.9 percent, namely semiconductors etc: 7.6 percent, IC: 10.0 percent), electrical power machinery: 17.2 percent, electrical measuring: 13.0 percent and electrical apparatus: 22.9 percent), transport equipment (4.0 percent, namely parts of motor vehicles: 21.2 percent and motorcycles, autocycles: 9.6 percent), others (22.1 percent, namely scientific, optical instruments: 25.5 percent and blank/recorded media: 9.6 percent), chemicals (14.2 percent, namely organic chemicals: 17.5 percent and plastic materials: 12.4 percent), raw materials (24.0 percent), mineral fuels (33.8 percent) and foodstuff (13.9 percent).
Outbound shipments to China rose 16.4 percent (from 28.2 percent in February) and those to the US increased by 3.5 percent (from 0.4 percent). Sales also went up to Western Europe (6.7 percent from 4.2 percent), Oceania (23.9 percent from 23.6 percent), Russia (10.9 percent from 28.2 percent) and Africa (12.7 percent from -13.0 percent). In contrast, exports fell to the Middle East countries (-2.6 percent from -13.5 percent).
Imports jumped 15.8 percent to JPY 6,614.4 billion, following a 1.2 percent growth in the prior month and faster than consensus of a 10.4 percent growth. It was the biggest gain in three years, as purchases rose for all components: foodstuff (12.6 percent), raw materials (15.3 percent), mineral fuels (36.3 percent), chemicals (13.8 percent), manufactured goods (12.9 percent), machinery (6.1 percent), electrical machinery (10.6 percent), transport equipment (9.5 percent) and others (9.2 percent).
In February 2017, the trade surplus came in at JPY 813.4 billion.