Annual China export, import growth slows in October, reinforcing signs of fragility

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 07, 2014 9:31 PM

By Kevin Yao

BEIJING (Reuters) - Annual growth in China's exports and imports slowed in October, data showed on Saturday, reinforcing signs of fragility in the world's second-largest economy that could prompt policymakers to roll over more stimulus measures.

Exports rose 11.6 percent in October from a year earlier, slowing from a 15.3 percent jump in September, the General Administration of Customs said, but the figure was slightly above market expectations.

Imports rose an annual 4.6 percent in October, pulling back from a 7 percent rise in September, and were weaker than expected. That left the country with a trade surplus of $45.4 billion for the month, which was near record highs.

The figures compared with market expectations in a Reuters poll of a 10.6 percent rise in exports, a 5.5 percent increase in imports and a trade surplus of $42 billion.

Exports have been one of the lone bright spots for the economy due to firmer demand from the United States and Europe, helping offset weaker internal demand in recent months.

September's surprisingly strong export growth of 15.3 percent led some analysts to question the accuracy of the official numbers amid signs a resurgence of speculative currency flows through inflated trade receipts.

Annual growth in the world's second-largest economy slowed to 7.3 percent in the third quarter - the weakest since the height of the global financial crisis - as a cooling property sector weighs on domestic demand.

Recent purchasing managers' surveys on factory and services showed the economy lost further momentum heading into the fourth quarter as a cooling property market weighed on activity and export demand softened, putting Beijing's official target for the year at even greater risk.

China's cabinet unveiled detailed measures on Thursday to support imports of high-tech equipment, resource products and consumer goods, in its latest efforts to support the economy and rebalance trade.

That followed recent government steps to offer cheaper loans, tax breaks and currency hedging tools to exporters.

The government unveiled a burst of "targeted" policy stimulus since April, including cutting reserve requirements for some banks, hastening construction of railways and public housing and allowing local governments to loosen property curbs.

China's central bank pledged on Thursday to maintain modest policy support to help the economy weather increasing headwinds in the near term but stressed that it would not flood markets with cash.

China's reform-minded leaders have refrained from acting forcefully, such as by cutting interest rates. That has caused concerns among some analysts that the modest policy measures may not be enough to prevent a sharper slowdown.

A Reuters poll published last month forecast the economy could grow at an annual 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter, leaving the full-year pace at 7.4 percent - the weakest in 24 years.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)