Strong exports to the US, low energy prices and a weak yen have led to the first trade surplus in three years in Japan. The Nikkei closed above 20,000 on the news, also helped by expectations of solid corporate earnings.
Japan's March trade surplus stood at 229.3 billion yen ($1.92 billion, 1.78 billion euros), with exports up 8.5 percent from the same period last year and imports down 14.5 percent, according to the Finance Ministry.
It is the first time Japan's trade balance has been positive since June 2012. Exports to the US jumped over 20 percent from a year earlier, buoyed by a weak yen. Cars and electronic parts such as semiconductors sold particularly well. Exports to China also rose, by 3.9 percent, compared to a year earlier.
Cheap energy contributed to the result, with the value of Japan's imports of petroleum down 50.7 percent from a year earlier, and those of liquefied natural gas 12.3 percent lower.
Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index soared on the news and closed above 20,000 on Wednesday for the first time in 15 years. Expectations of bumper corporate earnings were also a factor.
The trade figures provide a welcome boost for the Japanese economy, which is marred by weak consumer demand and #link:18284270:very low inflation. Two weeks ago, the Bank of Japan said that inflation was likely to remain at around zero "for the time being" due to lower energy prices.
GDP growth is also lackluster - Japan limped out of recession in the last quarter of 2014, logging a mere 0.4 percent growth rate.
ng/hg (AFP, dpa)