Japan trade balance shifted to a deficit of JPY 55.3 billion in December 2018 from a JPY 356.2 billion surplus in the same month a year earlier and worse than market estimates of a JPY 29.5 billion shortfall. Exports declined 3.8 percent to JPY 7,024 billion, mainly dragged by a 7.0 percent drop in sales to China, whereas imports climbed 1.9 percent to JPY 7,304 billion, mainly nudged by 23.9 percent jump in purchases from the United States.