Surprise spurt in growth

Business | Reuters and Avery Chen 15 Feb 2019

China's exports unexpectedly returned to growth in January after a shock decline the previous month, while imports fell much less than had been expected.

But analysts said the strength was likely due to seasonal factors and predicted that renewed trade weakness was ahead.

January exports rose 9.1 percent from a year earlier, customs data showed, defying expectations for a 3.2-percent drop. It was also a marked turnaround from December's 4.4 percent decline.

Imports fell 1.5 percent after forecasts for a 10-percent slide and followed a 7.6 percent drop in December.

China's trade surplus with the United States meanwhile narrowed to US$27.3 billion (HK$212.3 billion) in January from US$29.8 billion in December.

Exports to the United States fell 2.4 percent in January from a year earlier while imports from the United States plunged 41.2 percent.

After the data flurry, onshore yuan fell 140 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6.774 per US$ last night.

Also yesterday came word that Zhang Meng, deputy director of the Currency, Gold and Silver Bureau at the People's Bank of China, has received a "serious warning" over a violation of a rule that people must reimburse official outlays for their personal expenses.

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