China’s exports fell in January for the first time in two years, amid concern over a global economic slowdown. 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 trade surplus 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 exports “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.