China's exports surprisingly tumbled in March, official data showed on Monday, setting a poor precursor to the closely-watched first quarter growth figures due on Wednesday.
Exports tumbled 14.6 percent from the year-ago period, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, which cited weak global demand and the impact of the lunar new year as factors behind the decline.
This compares with a rise of 12 percent rise predicted by a Reuters poll and following the 48.3 percent surge in February.
Imports meanwhile slid 12.3 percent, a tad worse than the expected 11.7 percent fall and after diving 20.5 percent in the month before. The trade surplus for the month totaled $3.08 billion as a result, short of the $43.8 billion forecast.
"Put in USD terms, March imports fell 12.7 percent, above the street's view of a 10 percent decline. Exports fell 15 percent relative to expectations of 9 percent growth. As a result we saw an absolute collapse in the trade balance and it must put the risks for this Wednesday's Q1 GDP to the downside," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG.