(Repeats to fix table formatting)
* Sept exports f'cast +5.0 pct y/y vs Aug +2.7 pct
* Imports f'cast +2.4 pct y/y vs Aug -2.6 pct
* Trade balance f'cast $20.7 bln vs Aug $26.7 bln
* Data to be announced on Saturday, Oct. 13
BEIJING, Oct 9 (Reuters) - China's imports likely returned to the path ofexpansion in September with export growth accelerating from August, but theunderlying momentum for trade remains weak, a Reuters poll of economists showed.
Analysts say shrinking global demand as the debt crisis festers in Europe -the single biggest overseas market for Chinese goods - and aslower-than-expected recovery in the U.S. economy would continue to be a majordrag on China's export growth at least for the rest of the year.
"Despite the recent announcement of the euro's rescue plans and furtherquantitative easing in the U.S., it will be some time before the advancedeconomies can genuinely begin to recover," Shen Jianguang, chief economist atMizuho Securities in Hong Kong, said in a research note.
"Until then, austerity measures and structural reforms are going to drag ondemand for Chinese exports," he added.
The median forecast by 27 analysts showed China's exports in September mayhave grown 5.0 percent from a year earlier, recovering from a rise of 2.7percent in August, while annual import growth was seen up 2.4 percent on a yearago, reversing the 2.6 percent year-on-year drop in August.
The monthly trade surplus was estimated at $20.7 billion, narrowing from$26.7 billion in August.
Some analysts argued that the modest recovery in trade growth last month maybe largely a seasonal effect, as advanced economies typically increase demandahead of the Christmas season in the fourth quarter.
Hurt by a recession in Europe and a patchy economic recovery in the UnitedStates, China's export growth has dipped to single digit levels in recent monthsfrom a pace of more than 20 percent in 2010 and the first half of 2011.
China targets 10 percent growth in total trade this year, a figure whichofficials say is going to be hard to achieve.
China's Commerce Ministry said last month the country's export outlookremained grim and external demand for the rest of the year may be weaker thanseen in the first eight months.
That is grim news in a country where exports generated 31 percent of grossdomestic product in 2011, according to World Bank data, support an estimated 200million jobs and where analysts already expect the economy to have its weakestyear of expansion since 1999.
Two cuts to interest rates this year, the easing of bank reserverequirements that freed about 1.2 trillion yuan ($190 billion) for lending andthe approval of infrastructure projects worth more than $150 billion have so farfailed to arrest the decline.
Economists expect China's six-quarter long economic slowdown may extend intothe July-September quarter, with full-year growth for 2012 likely to fall to 7.7percent according to the latest Reuters poll - the lowest since 1999.
To cushion headwinds from external risks, Beijing rolled out an array ofmeasures to help relieve the burden on exporters and importers, such as fasterpayment of tax rebates, cutting red tape, easier access to bank loans.
The Finance Ministry has said it would suspend administrative customs feesfor all goods coming in and out of China for the rest of this year in a move toshield exporters and importers from the global economic downturn.
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(exports and imports percentage change y/y; balance in $bln)
FORECASTS Exports Imports BalanceANZ 5.7 2.4 20.40Bank of Communications 6.0 3.5 19.30BBVA 5.0 3.5 17.64
BOC International Securities 3.5 2.5 13.80
BofAML 1.0 1.5 26.20CDB Securities 4.7 6.8 18.30China Construction Bank 3.2 0.0 20.00CICC 6.0 1.0 23.10CITIC Securities 6.2 2.6 21.10Deutsche Bank 6.0 3.1 20.00Everbright Securities 9.0 3.5 24.40Forecast PTE 5.9 2.5 20.70Goldman Sachs 8.0 1.0 26.60Huarong Securities 3.1 1.3 23.50Hwabao Trust 5.0 0.0 23.00Industrial Bank 4.5 -1.2 24.00JPMorgan Chase 9.9 5.8 22.40Mizuho Sec. 4.0 -3.0 26.00OCBC 6.3 3.1 20.00Peking First Advisory 4.9 1.4 20.67Pingan Securities 4.0 1.0 20.00Sealand Securities 3.2 1.6 17.50Shanghai Securities 3.1 -0.1 20.00Shenyin & Wanguo 7.8 3.0 23.17Societe Generale 6.0 4.0 18.50Standard Chartered 5.0 -3.3 28.00UBS 5.0 3.0 18.40
Median 5.0 2.4 20.67Highest 9.9 6.8 28.00Lowest 1.0 -3.3 13.80
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(Reporting by Aileen Wang and Kevin Yao; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
Keywords: CHINA ECONOMY/TRADE