China’s import and export growth had been down sharply in December from a year earlier, from Associated Press:
China’s trade slump worsened in December as exports fell at their fastest rate in a decade amid global economic turmoil, government data showed Tuesday, aggravating a decline that has fueled a wave of layoffs and fears of unrest.
December exports fell 2.8 percent from the same month a year earlier, after a 2.2 percent decline in November, the Chinese customs agency said. China’s global trade surplus last year rose 12.7 percent over 2007 to a record $295.5 billion, possibly worsening tensions with the government of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
…The slump in global sales has forced thousands of Chinese factories to close. Communist leaders worry about unrest as laid-off migrants stream back to their hometowns from coastal manufacturing regions without jobs or money. Labor protests have occurred in some areas. The government is pressing companies to avoid more job cuts.