BIG DEFICIT AS EXPORTS DECLINE: Japan posted a $9.6 billion trade deficit for August as shipments to Europe and Asian countries sank. Exports fell 5.8 percent from a year ago, while imports dropped 5.4 percent.

WHAT IT MEANS: August's numbers further undermine hopes that exports will fuel a revival in the world's third-biggest economy. Japan's central bank expects exports to stay weak in the immediate future.

WHY IT'S HAPPENING: The strong Japanese yen has hurt exports even as demand evaporates in crisis-stricken Europe. Meanwhile, the country's energy imports have risen following closures of most of its nuclear plants.