Chinese trade surplus up, inflation eases in new year

Chinese trade surplus up, inflation eases in new year

BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
Chinese trade surplus up, inflation eases in new year

An employee works on a steel production line at an export factory in Dalian. China’s exports and imports surged as inflation abated in January. REUTERS photo

China’s trade surplus rose and inflation eased in January, official data showed Feb. 8, adding to recent evidence the world’s number two economy is emerging from a drawn-out downtrend.

The economy expanded last year at its lowest annual rate since 1999, in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets. But an uptick in the final three months of 2012 snapped seven straight quarters of slowing growth. And conditions continued to improve in January, according to the government.

The trade surplus rose 7.7 percent year-on-year to $29.2 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said in a statement, beating a median $26.6 billion forecast of economists in a Dow Jones Newswires survey.

January exports jumped a solid 25.0 percent to $187.4 billion, while imports soared 28.8 percent to $158.2 billion, said Customs.

At the same time inflation slowed to 2.0 percent in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said, easing from a seven-month peak of 2.5 percent in December.

The trade growth rates were also above market estimates of 17.5 percent for exports and 23.5 percent for imports, according to Lu Ting and Zhi Xiaojia, analysts at Back of America Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong.But Customs noted that there were more working days last month than in January 2012, due to the timing of the Lunar New Year, affecting the figures.

After taking out factors linked to the holiday, exports grew 12.4 percent last month year-on-year.