China Trade Contraction Adds Growth Concern

China’s exports fell in January for the first time in two years, amid concern over a global . From Bloomberg:

Overseas shipments decreased 0.5 percent and imports fell 15.3 percent from a year earlier, the customs bureau said on its website today. The median estimate of 30 economists was for a 3.6 percent drop in imports for the month, which had four fewer working days than January 2011 because of the holiday. The widened to a six-month high of $27.3 billion.

Economists differed over whether the data are evidence of a slowdown in demand within China or result mainly from seasonal distortions. Commerce Minister Chen Deming said yesterday January “cannot make us optimistic” and the International Monetary Fund cautioned this week a deterioration in Europe could cut China’s expansion rate almost in half this year.

“Domestic demand was genuinely weak in January, while exports remained on a gradual downward trend,” said Yao Wei, a Hong Kong-based economist for Societe Generale SA.

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