China's trade growth slows as commodity demand moderates

Reuters

Reuters

Business remains brisk for the world's largest trader but the pace of import and export growth both slowed in April as demand fell and commodity prices weakened.

China's April imports rose 11.9 percent, cooling from March's 20.3 percent rise, official data showed on Monday, and missing analysts' expectations for an 18 percent rise.

China's trade surplus increased to $38.05 billion from $23.93 billion the previous month.

While exports increased at a slower rate than March, when they soared by 16.4%, they marked a second consecutive month of growth after a 1.3% fall in February.

Economists said the latest numbers, which follow softer readings in the most recent China and USA factory activity indexes, indicate slowing trade momentum.

While China's economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter, policymakers have moved to reduce financial risks in the economy and stamp out speculative activity in the property market.

The total volume of the bilateral trade in April amounted to $6.59 billion against $5.59 billion year-on-year, an increase of 15 percent.

China's export outlook has improved on recovering global demand and as the threat of a trade war with its biggest trading partner fizzled.

Last month, Trump launched a trade probe against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the US market.

"Teapot buying in April eased a bit after the high level in March", Zou said by phone before the data were released.

China's central bank has cautiously shifted to a tightening policy bias in recent months after years of ultra-loose monetary policy led to an explosive build-up of debt, forcing the authorities to take steps to defuse bubbles. He pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping at a recent meeting in Florida to help reduce the trade gap between the two countries.

The bank said it expects the economy to grow 6.8% year-on-year in the second quarter, compared to 6.9% in the first three months of 2017.

Last month, Trump launched a trade probe against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the USA market.

Shipments to the United States climbed 11.7 per cent, easing from the 19.7 per cent gain the prior month, while exports to the European Union increased 4 per cent.

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