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Mixed Trade Figures, Trade Surplus Higher But Import Growth Softer Than Expected


The China trade figures for the Jan-Feb period present a picture that was similar to last year. That is, import growth weaker than exports, which is aiding the underlying trade surplus position. Exports came in slightly better than expected, -6.8% ytd y/y (-9.0% forecast), but imports were -10.2% ytd y/y, versus -5.5% forecast. The trade surplus was $116.88bn ytd, versus $82.50bn forecast.

  • At face value the market might be a little disappointed by the softer import number, given the domestic re-opening theme, which should be boosting domestic demand and therefore import demand.
  • It's possible the softer number reflected a price impact, given softer commodity prices. Volume numbers looked mixed with iron ore stronger, but crude oil slightly lower in y/y terms.
  • Exports were slightly better than expected, which was hinted at by the better tone to PMI new export order data. Still, a clearer picture won't emerge until we get March trade data, which will be released in April.

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