China's exports jump 7.9 pct in January from year earlier

In this Jan. 12, 2017 photo, shoppers inspect clothing at a wholesale clothing market in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. China reports that its exports rose 7.9 percent in January, rebounding from the previous month's contraction, while imports gained 16.7 percent. (Chinatopix via AP)
In this Jan. 12, 2017 photo, shoppers inspect clothing at a wholesale clothing market in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province. China reports that its exports rose 7.9 percent in January, rebounding from the previous month's contraction, while imports gained 16.7 percent. (Chinatopix via AP)

BEIJING — China's exports surged in January, rebounding from the previous month's contraction, and imports rose in a positive sign for the world's second-largest economy.

Exports climbed 7.9 percent from a year earlier to $18.3 billion, recovering from December's 6.1 percent decline, customs data showed Friday. Imports gained 16.7 percent to $13.1 billion, accelerating from the previous month's 3.1 percent expansion.

China's trade figures can be distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls at different times in January and February each year. Factories rush to fill orders before closing for up to two weeks and then restock with a flood of imported raw materials. The holiday began Jan. 27 this year, so some of the shutdown was in January, while last year's break didn't begin until Feb. 7.

"Headline trade data was strong in January," said Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics in a report. "Import momentum remained solid, following the impressive sequential run up last year, indicating continued steady domestic demand momentum and higher commodity prices."

Weak demand for Chinese exports adds to pressure on communist leaders who want to avoid politically volatile job losses as they try to nurture self-sustaining economic growth based on domestic consumption instead of trade and investment.

Last year, exports shrank by 7.7 percent. Exports have contracted in each of the past six months except November, when they rose by just 0.1 percent over a year earlier.

Chinese economic growth cooled last year to 6.7 percent, its weakest rate since 1990. Even that weak performance was shored up by heavy government spending and boom in real estate sales supported by a surge in bank lending.

Private sector forecasters and the International Monetary Fund expect growth to cool further this year. Chinese leaders have warned any recovery will be "L-shaped," meaning that while the decline might end, growth won't rebound to the previous decade's heady rates.

Surveys of manufacturers showed activity expanded in January but analysts warned that might not last as Chinese regulators tighten lending controls to cool what they deem a dangerously fast rise in debt and surging housing costs.

"We remain cautious on the outlook for both global demand and Chinese domestic demand later in the year," said Kuijs.

___

General Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese): http://www.customs.gov.cn

People also read these

Global markets mixed after Wall Street loss

Dec 23, 2016

Asian markets are mostly lower while Europe has gained in early trading ahead of the Christmas...

McDonald's sells China business in deal worth up to $2.1B

Jan 9, 2017

Fast-food giant McDonald's is selling a controlling stake in its China business to a group of...

World stocks turn lower as investors monitor volatile dollar

Jan 18, 2017

World stocks are mostly lower after a sharp drop in the dollar sapped investor enthusiasm

China's growth edges up but 2016 weakest year since 1990

Jan 20, 2017

China reports its economy picked up pace in the last quarter, though its full-year performance was...

Asian shares rise in thin trade as markets watch Trump

Jan 27, 2017

Asian stocks are drifting mostly higher in quiet trading as traders and investors prepared for the...

AseanCoverage is a next-gen news site focusing exclusively on online news from South East Asia.

Contact us: sales[at]aseancoverage.com