China’s exports support growth amid real estate slump

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(Oct 13): China’s exports rose more than estimated in September and imports rebounded, helping underpin growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

Overseas shipments increased 15.3 percent from a year earlier, the biggest increase since February 2013 and faster than the 12 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. Imports rose 7 percent, against projections for a 2 percent decline, leaving a trade surplus of about $31 billion, data from the Beijing-based customs administration today showed.

“The numbers show continued competitiveness of China’s exports and signs of life in the domestic economy,” said Dariusz Kowalczyk, a Hong Kong-based strategist at Credit Agricole CIB.

Improved trade is helping China weather a property slump that’s dragging on expansion. Globally, the outlook is becoming more clouded, with stocks declining and Federal Reserve officials highlighting mounting concern about the improving U.S. economy’s ability to withstand foreign weakness.

Exports to Hong Kong surged 34 percent from a year earlier, with the territory overtaking the U.S. in the month to be the top destination for Chinese shipments.

Chinese stocks maintained declines after the data. The Shanghai Composite Index was 1.2 percent lower at 10:44 a.m. local time and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.8 percent.

The increase in exports follows a previously reported 9.4 percent jump in August and compares with analysts’ estimates for gains ranging from 7.7 percent to 16.6 percent. Imports declined 2.4 percent decline in August, while the trade surplus was forecast at $41.1 billion for September, following a record $49.8 billion the previous month.

U.S. Recovery

“The U.S. economy is trending better and that improves external demand,” Wen Bin, a researcher at China Minsheng Banking Corp. in Beijing, said before today’s data release. “China’s exports are expected to stay healthy.”

The economy probably grew 7.2 percent last quarter, the slowest in more than five years, based on the median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg in September. Gross domestic product data are scheduled to be released on Oct. 21.

Analysts forecast China’s expansion this year will moderate to 7.3 percent, the slowest since 1990, and to 7 percent in 2015.

Central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said over the weekend that the economy “will continue to expand at a steady pace.”

While expediting spending, boosting infrastructure building and relaxing property curbs, Premier Li Keqiang has refrained from broad-based stimulus, saying China prefers reform to boost the economy.