Japan's exports rose at their fastest pace in eight months in October, an encouraging sign that global demand is picking up.
Exports rose 9.6 percent on an annual basis, data from the Ministry of Finance showed Thursday, above the 4.5 percent rise forecast from Reuters, and following a 6.9 percent rise in September.
Imports, meanwhile, rose 2.7 percent from the year-ago period, below expectations of a 3.4 percent rise and after rising 6.2 percent in September.
This brought the trade deficit to 710 billion yen, better than expectations for a 1.05 trillion yen deficit and narrower than September's 958.3 billion deficit.
"Japan is basically exporting out of crisis again. We already had very strong figures in September and this is becoming a trend," said Martin Schulz, senior economist at Fujitsu Research Institute.
"The main reason is because exporters are finally realizing that the yen will stay weak for a longer time and they are now looking for longer-term demand, particularly in Asia. [They are] expanding their markets and exports there and that obviously helps the economy tremendously," he said.
Exports to Asia, which account for more than half of Japanese shipments, rose 10.5 percent, boosted by shipments of metals and auto parts to China and computers to Asia overall, data showed.
The outlook for Japanese exports has been in focus after momentum faltered in recent months despite a weak yen, which traditionally makes it more attractive for overseas firms to buy goods from Japan.