China Exports Surge in January

Fears of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy may be fading.

BEIJING China’s exports in January surged beyond expectations, indicating that fears of a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy may be fading.

On Friday, the Chinese government released a raft of trade data suggesting that earlier signs of economic rebound in China were not an aberration. Leading the figures, China’s foreign trade in January grew by 26.7 percent over the same month last year, following much more moderation growth of 10.1 percent year-on-year in December, according to the country’s General Administration of Customs. Exports rose by 25 percent, while imports were up by 28.8 percent the customs agency said, boosting the level of overall foreign trade growth.

China’s measure of the trade surplus widened by 7.7 percent, but there should be some adjustment for the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in January last year and February this year. The month often brings strong retail growth but a noticeable slowdown in production and factory output.

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The customs agency said exports were up significantly both to the United States and Europe in January over the same month last year, continuing a series of indicators that China’s manufacturing industry is picking up after months of sluggish growth and stalled output. But the pickup in not just due to a rise in demand from the US and Europe. Exports to Southeast Asian countries rose by 48.6 percent, the customs agency said.

At the same time, the central government said domestic consumer inflation had slowed in January to 2 percent, well below what the government considers and acceptable level of growth in consumer prices. The People’s Bank of China has warned inflation could rise more than 3.5 percent by the end of the year.