China exports much stronger than expected
China's exports jumped by a fifth in February from a year earlier, more than double expectations, but imports were much weaker than forecast, official data showed.
For January and February combined exports rose 23.6 percent, while imports increased five percent, which compared with expectations for rises of 17.6 percent and 10 percent respectively, reported Reuters.
Analysts look at the combined figures because of distortions caused by the Lunar New Year holidays, which fell in January in 2012 and in February this year.
"Exports in January and February were both quite strong," said Sun Chi, an economist at Daiwa in Hong Kong.
"This shows a recovering trend and is a good picture. For imports, we need to figure out if demand is falling or whether the weakness is due to prices."
The stronger exports figures were borne out by comments from China's third-largest port operator, Ningbo Port Group. "Our data in the first two months shows the foreign trade situation is improving," chairman Li Linghong told Reuters ahead of the trade data.
Ningbo port's container volumes rose 13.6 percent in January and February from a year earlier and cargo volumes increased 12.4 percent, Li said.
"Usually the first two months are a peak season for companies to deliver orders, but it still shows the demand from the international market," he said.
Still, the signs of recovery remain fragile after 2012 trade fell short of China's 10 percent growth target as major demand centres, including the euro zone and the United States, struggled to pick up from the global financial crisis.
That was underlined by a decline in both new export orders and imports in China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) in February.
That would hurt exports at a headline level and reduce imports to feed production lines in China's massive factory sector, which remains levered to foreign demand.
Source: Cargonews Asia â€“ 08 March 2013
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