Japan’s exports slumped by the most in six months in July as shipments to Europe and China tumbled.
Economists had expected a fall of 2.9 percent from the same month last year; in fact it was 8.1 percent.
Exports to the struggling European Union plunged by 25.1 percent. That was the biggest such drop since October 2009.
Exports from Taiwan and South Korea also fell in July adding to concerns over global demand after a string of dire trade figures from Asia’s export engines.
The slump in EU imports of Japanese goods underpinned expectations that the trading bloc has slipped into a recession.
Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, fell 11.9 percent from a year earlier, the biggest decline in five months, led by lower shipments of semiconductors, electronics and car parts.
That fits with China data that has shown economic growth struggling to pick up after six straight quarters of decline despite two interest rate cuts and reductions in the amount of money that banks have to hold in reserve.