China April exports, imports decline more than expected

BEIJING, May 8:   China’s exports fell more than expected in April, reversing the previous month’s brief recovery, as weak global demand weighed on trade out of the world’s second-largest economy. Exports fell 1.8 percent from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said on Sunday, supporting the government’s concerns that the foreign trade environment will be challenging in 2016. April imports dropped 10.9 per cent from a year earlier, falling for the 18th consecutive month. The continued decline in imports suggests domestic demand remains weak, despite a pickup in infrastructure spending and record credit growth in the first quarter. China had a trade surplus of $45.56 billion in April, versus forecasts of $40 billion. Economists polled by Reuters had expected April exports to fall 0.1 percent, after a surprise 11.5 percent rise in March, and expected imports to fall 5 percent, following March’s 7.6 percent decline. An official factory survey and Caixin’s private-sector gauge for April painted a mixed picture of the health of the manufacturing sector. The official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed factory activity expanded for the second month in a row in April but only marginally, while Caixin’s manufacturing PMI pointed to 14 straight months of sector contraction. Concerns of a hard-landing in China had eased after the strong March economic data, but analysts have warned that the rebound may be short-lived. Economists expect a slowdown in credit growth and industrial production in April although inflation could accelerate. Key economic data is expected over the next two weeks. The statistics bureau said recently that China’s exports were unlikely to maintain the pace of growth seen in March in coming months. While the government says China’s domestic economic indicators are improving, a sluggish world economy and volatile markets are undermining gains. Amid shrinking global demand, China still managed to grow its share of world exports to 13.8 percent last year from 12.3 percent in 2014, indicating the country’s export sector remains competitive despite higher costs. (AGENCIES)