Japan posts trade surplus in Sept, though exports down 7 pct

Japan reports its trade balance swung to a surplus in September, though exports fell 6.9 percent, pulled lower by weak demand for autos and machinery.

Customs figures released Monday showed exports in September totaled 5.97 trillion yen ($57.4 billion). Imports fell 16.3 percent from a year earlier to 5.47 trillion yen ($52.6 billion).

The surplus of 498.3 billion yen ($4.8 billion) compared with a deficit of 18.7 billion yen in August.

Japan's trade balance has mostly fallen in recent months as the value of the yen has risen against the dollar. That makes Japanese products less competitive in overseas markets. But it also reduces costs for imported oil and gas and other commodities.

A larger factor has been a prolonged slowdown in China, one of Japan's biggest export markets.