TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan likely posted another month of only modest export gains in August amid rising worries over global trade friction, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.
Exports were seen rising 5.6 percent in August from a year earlier, the poll of 16 economists found, after a gain of 3.9 percent in July.
Imports likely grew 14.9 percent last month due to higher oil prices, which would result in a trade deficit of 468.7 billion yen ($4.19 billion) for the month, the poll showed.
In July, imports grew 14.6 percent, and the trade deficit was 231.2 billion yen.
“There are no clear signs that global trade friction has affected Japan’s exports,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.
“But the pace of growth in the nation’s exports is sluggish despite a moderate expansion in the global economy, which is a worry for the Japanese economy.”
In July, Japan’s export growth slowed with shipments of cars to the Unites States sinking. Total export orders shrank slightly in August due to weaker demand from China, a business survey showed.
Japan and the U.S. will likely hold a second round of trade talks on Sept. 21 between Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Tokyo wants to avert steep tariffs on its car exports and fend off U.S. demands for a bilateral free trade agreement.
The finance ministry will release the trade data at 8:50 a.m. Tokyo time on Sept. 19 (2350 GMT, Sept. 18).
Japan’s core consumer inflation rate likely ticked up in August on energy costs and prices of accommodation as well as cellphone communication, analysts said.
The nationwide core consumer price index (CPI), which excludes fresh food prices but includes fuel costs, likely rose 0.9 percent in August from a year earlier, the poll showed, slightly up from 0.8 percent growth in July.
“We can not say that demand is boosting consumer inflation yet. We expect core CPI will stay around 0.9 percent for a while,” said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.
The government will release the CPI data on Sept. 21 at 8:30 a.m. (2330 GMT, Sept. 20).
Economists expect the Bank of Japan will keep its short-term interest rate target at minus 0.1 percent and the 10-year government bond yield target at around zero percent at its two-day policy meeting on Sept. 18-19.
In July, the BOJ pledged to keep its massive stimulus in place but made tweaks to reduce adverse effects of its policies on markets and commercial banks.
The central bank is expected to debate next week whether escalating global trade tensions could undermine its confidence that the export-reliant economy will sustain a moderate expansion.
($1 = 111.8700 yen)
Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Kim Coghill