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China's April exports, imports miss forecasts, but trade balance surplus wider than exepected

Containers are stacked at a port on March 1, 2016 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province of China
China Foto Press | Getty Images
Containers are stacked at a port on March 1, 2016 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province of China

China reported Monday that exports in April rose 8.0 percent on-year in dollar terms, while imports rose 11.9 percent — both falling short of expectations.

The world's second largest economy was expected to post a 10.4 percent rise in exports and a 18 percent jump in imports, according to forecasts by Reuters.

The country's trade surplus in April was $38.05 billion, higher than the projected $35.5 billion by Reuters and better than the $23.93 billion that it reported in March.

In yuan terms, its exports in April jumped 14.3 percent year-on-year, while imports increased by 18.6 percent over the same period, according to latest customs data. The figures were better than the 10.4 percent increase in exports and a 18 percent jump in imports that Reuters expected.

The trade surplus in yuan was 262.3 billion.

Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics, said softer domestic demand is weighing on imports into the country and that will continue to face headwinds.

But external demand appears strong and that should help China's exports, he added.

"Looking ahead, we expect export growth to hold up well given the relatively bright outlook for the global economy this year. Growth in inbound shipments will continue to face headwinds, however. In particular, policy tightening will further weigh on domestic demand in coming quarters, with the impact on import values amplified by declines in commodity prices," he said in a note to clients.

Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, said China's growth story is still on target.

"I think the growth picture is on target. They're looking at...probably 6 percent growth this year and because these trade data numbers will vary from month to month, I don't think you have to be too surprised," he told CNBC at the sidelines of the IIF Spring Membership Meeting in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, China's trade surplus with the United States widened to $21.34 billion in April compared with March's $17.74 billion surplus.

China's large surplus with the U.S. has been a focus of President Donald Trump, who pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to help reduce the gap.

Both countries agreed to a 100-day plan for trade talks aimed at boosting U.S. exports and reducing China's trade surplus with the United States.

— Reuters contributed to this story