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Japan December exports fall 6.3% year-on-year - MOF

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's exports fell 6.3% in December from a year earlier, Ministry of Finance (MOF) data showed on Thursday, in a sign weak external demand is keeping a lid on the export-reliant economy.

That compared with a 4.2% decrease expected by economists in a Reuters poll and followed a 7.9% year-on-year decline in the previous month.

Imports fell 4.9% in the year to December, versus the median estimate for a 3.4% decrease. They fell 15.7% in the previous month.

As a result, the trade balance came to a deficit of 152.5 billion yen (1.1 billion pounds), versus the median estimate for a 150 billion yen shortfall.

(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)