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UPDATE 3-Japan's exports jump most in decade as trade recovery perks up

    * April exports, imports beat forecasts
    * Trade surplus wider than expected
    * Machinery orders rise, manufacturers' mood at 2-yr high
    * Batch of data point to export-led economic recovery

 (Adds analyst quote, detail)
    By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Daniel Leussink
    TOKYO, May 20 (Reuters) - Japan's exports grew the most
since 2010 in April while capital spending perked up on surging
global demand for cars and electronics, lifting hopes that an
improvement in trade could help lead the world's third-largest
economy back to growth.
    Also brightening the outlook, confidence among the nation's
manufacturers hit a more than two-year high in May on the back
of solid overseas orders, a Reuters survey showed on Thursday.
            
    While the stronger exports and imports are partly helped by
the favourable statistical base effects from the major plunge in
trade seen a year earlier, real demand is also on the mend.
    Global appetite for cars and electronics has picked up since
last year, driven by a recovery in the U.S. and Chinese
economies -- Japan's key markets -- although global chip
shortages put a drag on overseas shipments in recent months.
   Exports rose 38.0% in April from a year earlier, official
data showed on Thursday, compared with a 30.9% increase expected
by economists and following a 16.1% rise in March. That was the
fastest gain since April 2010, led by U.S.-bound shipments of
cars and car parts and Chinese demand for chip-making equipment.
    "The trade data confirmed that exports were recovering
steadily. Particularly car exports, which fell a lot last year,
are picking up," said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji
Yasuda Research Institute.
    "In Japan, capital spending tends to move in sync with
external demand, so an export recovery is encouraging for
machinery orders and capital expenditure."
    By destination, exports to China, Japan's largest trading
partner, rose 33.9% year-on-year in April, led by shipments of
chip-making equipment, hybrid cars and scrap copper.
    U.S.-bound exports grew 45.1% in the year to April, the
fastest gain since 2010, on the back of demand for automobiles,
car parts and ship engines.
    Separate data from the Cabinet Office showed Japan's core
machinery orders, a highly volatile data series regarded as an
indicator of capital spending in the coming six to nine months,
rose 3.7% in March from the previous month.
    The rise in core orders, which exclude those of ships and
electric utilities, compared with a 6.4% increase seen in a
Reuters poll of economists, the data showed.
    The Cabinet Office maintained its assessment on machinery
orders, saying that a pick-up is stalling.
    Japan's economy fell back into decline in the first quarter
and economists have sharply revised down estimates for growth
this quarter as emergency curbs hobble consumer spending that
makes up more than half the economy.             
    "Export growth is welcome for the Japanese economy, but that
doesn't mean the whole of Japan can benefit from it," said Ayako
Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
    "What's important now is a recovery in service-sector
activity helped by a progress on coronavirus vaccination."
    

 (Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Daniel Leussink; Editing by
Sam Holmes)
  
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