China Trade Data Provide a Boost for Global Economy Bulls
Stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs data, an unexpected rise in German industrial orders and now much better-than-forecast trade numbers from China. The outlook for the world economy is looking much brighter than it did a month ago, analysts say.
Chinese exports rose 14.7 percent in April from a year earlier, above market expectations for a 10.3 percent increase, while imports rose 16.8 percent – beating forecasts for a 13.9 percent rise.
Analysts said that while the trade data were probably inflated by seasonal factors and businesses using trade declarations to bring capital into China, the numbers also suggest that there is strength in both exports and domestic consumption.
And that's a relief given concerns about the outlook for the world's second biggest economy, which unexpectedly slowed in the first quarter of the year.
"The numbers could be overstated to a certain degree. At the same time, the main message from the data of solid external and domestic demand remains valid," said Credit Agricole's Senior Economist Dariusz Kowalczyk.
"I think concerns about the Chinese economy will ease somewhat, because when imports are good it means domestic demand is not doing that bad," he added.
It was just a few weeks ago that signs of weakness in both the U.S. and Chinese economies had dampened optimism about the outlook for world growth. In particular, weak manufacturing surveys across the globe have pointed to sluggish economic growth ahead.
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"For all intents and purposes, this number is good for the global economy at the moment and we should see a concerted effort by central banks around the world to support growth and that should continue to underpin risk assets," said Stan Shamu, a markets strategist at derivatives trading firm IG.
"We've seen pretty solid reactions to the China data, particularly in the Aussie dollar as well as cyclical plays such as mining stocks," he added. China is Australia's largest trading partner and the Australian dollar tends to be influenced by Chinese economic data.
The Aussie rose to the day's highs of $1.0192 after the China data, about 0.4 percent off a one-month low hit on Tuesday following a surprise interest rate cut from Australia's central bank.
The Chinese data also helped to underpin sentiment in equity markets, which received a boost on Friday after the key non-farm payrolls report showed the U.S. economy created 165,000 new jobs in April, a much stronger than anticipated number.
Data on Tuesday showing industrial orders from Germany, Europe's biggest economy, unexpectedly rose in March also raised some hopes for the euro zone's beleaguered economy, helping to fuel the rally in stocks.
"People were starting to fear a soft patch in the U.S., but it does look like the economy has turned a corner," said IG's Shamu. "Now we're seeing better U.S., China data, if we see Japan start to turn a corner as well, that would trigger a bit of buying frenzy and give markets the next leg higher."
In China, the Shanghai Composite stock index rose to its highest level in more than a month on Tuesday, although it had pulled back gains by late Asian trade.
"The markets are up and I think that is the main thing. I think the markets are really looking for something to latch on to and these [China] numbers have really given it a boost," said Sani Hamid, director, wealth management at Financial Alliance.
- By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe, Follow her on Twitter: @DharaCNBC