China October exports, imports fall more than expected

08 Nov, 2016 8:59 am

BEIJING – China’s exports and imports fell more than expected in October, adding to doubts about how long a recent pick-up in economic activity can be sustained.

October exports fell 7.3 percent from a year earlier, while imports shrank 1.4 percent, official data showed on Tuesday, raising fears that a broader recovery may be faltering.

That left the country with a trade surplus of $49.06 billion (40 billion pounds) for the month, the General Administration of Customs said, versus forecasts of $51.70 billion, and September’s $41.99 billion.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected October exports to have fallen 6 percent from a year earlier, compared to a 10 percent contraction in September. Imports had been expected to drop 1 percent, after falling 1.9 percent in September.

China’s exports in the first 10 months of the year fell 7.7 percent from the same period a year earlier, while imports dropped 7.5 percent.

Exports have dragged on economic growth this year, forcing the government to rely on higher spending and record bank lending to support growth.

Trade data for September had also been weaker than expected, after imports rose in August for the first time in nearly two years, boosted by coal, iron ore and other commodities.

“The ongoing cyclical rebound in China’s economy should support imports for another quarter or two but is unlikely to last much longer given that the boost to growth from earlier policy easing is set to fade before long,” Capital Economics’ China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said in a note.

The commerce ministry said last week that China will face relatively large downward pressure on foreign trade in the fourth quarter, with uncertainties continuing into 2017.

The economy expanded at a steady 6.7 percent in the third quarter and looks set to hit Beijing’s full-year target, fuelled by stronger government spending, record bank lending and a red-hot property market that are adding to its growing pile of debt.

But stubbornly weak global demand is weighing on growth. Weak exports knocked 7.8 percent off the country’s GDP growth in the first three quarters of this year as weak external demand and higher costs squeeze China’s massive factory sector. -Reuters

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