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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese exports rose 17.0 percent in January from a year earlier for a fifth straight month of gains, Ministry of Finance data showed on Thursday, in a further sign of a pick-up in external demand.
The result compared with an 11.9 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll. It followed a 12.8 percent year-on-year rise in December, which was the fastest growth in a year.
Imports fell 9.0 percent in the year to January, versus economists' median estimate of a 4.8 percent decline. That resulted in a trade deficit of 1.18 trillion yen ($9.9 billion), extending a record run of deficits to 31 months.
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($1 = 118.6600 yen)
Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Mari Saito; Editing by Chris Gallagher