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China August imports beat expectations, but exports disappoint

  • China on Friday reported August exports were up 5.5 percent from a year earlier in dollar terms, while imports were up 13.3 percent in dollar terms
A Chinese vendor unloads onions at a local food market in Beijing.
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A Chinese vendor unloads onions at a local food market in Beijing.

China on Friday reported data pointing to strong domestic demand as imports beat expectations in August, although overall export growth eased.

In August, China's exports were up 5.5 percent from a year ago in dollar terms, while imports were up 13.3 percent in dollar terms.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected a 6.0 percent rise in Chinese exports in August from a year ago in dollar terms. August imports were forecast to rise 10.0 percent in the same period.

"The strong import data suggests that domestic demand may be more resilient than expected in the second half," Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics wrote in a note.

As for exports, the headline figure points to a softening of global demand momentum, although a pickup in shipment growth to emerging Asia and the U.S. offset slower export expansion to the EU and Japan, Kuijs added.

The slowdown in export growth may be temporary, said ANZ's senior China economist, Betty Wang.

Even with the recent strength in the Chinese currency, China's role in global supply chains is unlikely to replaced in the near term as the country's export competitiveness shifts from low-value added to high-tech products, added Wang.

China's August trade balance was $41.99 billion, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

The country's surplus with the U.S. rose to $26.23 billion from $25.2 billion in July. The two countries' trade is closely-watched amid current tensions between the economic giants about trade practices.

China's economic data have been showing robust growth ahead of leadership changes later this year.

But many expect the mainland's economy to slow in the second half of the year due to a crackdown on debt and as the property market cools.

In July, China reported a 7.2 percent increase in imports and a 11.0 percent on-year rise in exports in dollar terms.

Market watchers are keeping their eyes on the health of the world's second-largest economy ahead of a key Communist Party meeting in October.

China on Friday also reported August exports were up 6.9 percent in yuan terms, while imports were up 14.4 percent in yuan terms from a year earlier, Chinese customs data showed.