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Japan Feb exports rise 1.8 pct year/year - MOF

TOKYO, March 19 (Reuters) - Japan's exports rose 1.8 percent in February from a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday, slowing sharply from the prior month as factory activity likely stalled in other Asian countries during Lunar New Year holidays. The result compared with a 1.9 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. It followed a 12.2 percent rise in January. Imports rose 16.5 percent in the year to February, versus the median estimate of a 17.1 percent increase. The trade balance came to a surplus of 3.4 billion yen ($32 million), versus the median estimate of a 99.6 billion yen deficit. To view full tables, go to the MOF website: http://www.customs.go.jp/toukei/info/indexte.htm ($1 = 105.9200 yen)

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher)