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Japan's trade deficit hits $8.6 billion in April

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan reports its trade deficit widened to a larger-than-expected 879.9 billion yen ($8.6 billion) in April as its weakening currency accentuated surging import costs.

The preliminary figures reported by the Finance Ministry on Wednesday showed exports rose 3.8 percent from the same month a year earlier to 5.78 trillion yen ($56.3 billion), while imports jumped 9.4 percent to 6.66 trillion yen ($64.9 billion). Japan's trade deficit stood at 362.4 billion yen in March, just over half the size of February's gap.

The weaker yen is expected to lead to a recovery in exports, along with stronger growth in the U.S. and some other major markets.

But it raises costs for imports of crude oil, gas and other commodities for this resource-scarce nation.