China's February trade data much weaker than expected as exports tumble 20.7%

BEIJING (REUTERS) – China’s February dollar-denominated exports fell 20.7 per cent from a year earlier, far worse than analysts’ expectations, while imports dropped 5.2 per cent, official data showed on Friday (March 8).

That left the country with a trade surplus of US$4.12 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected February shipments from the world’s largest exporter to have fallen 4.8 per cent from a year earlier, after a surprise jump of 9.1 per cent in January.

Imports were expected to have dropped 1.4 per cent, after declining 1.5 per cent in the preceding month. The trade surplus had been tipped at US$26.38 billion last month from January’s US$39.16 billion.

Analysts caution, however, that Chinese data is often highly volatile early in the year, due to massive business disruptions caused by the long Lunar New Year holidays, which began in early February this year.

China’s economic growth slowed to a 28-year low in 2018 and is expected to cool further this year, weighed down by weak demand at home and a bruising trade war with the United States.

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