China’s imports unexpectedly grew in Oct, exports extended decline
BEIJING -China’s imports unexpectedly grew in October while exports contracted at a quicker pace, in a mixed set of indicators that showed the recovery in the world’s second-largest economy remains uneven amid multiple challenges at home and abroad.
Recent indicators suggest Beijing’s support measures since June are helping bolster a tentative recovery, although a protracted property crisis and soft global demand continue to dog policymakers heading into 2024.
Exports shrank 6.4 percent from a year earlier in October, customs data showed on Tuesday, faster than a 6.2 percent decline in September and worse than a 3.3 percent fall expected in a Reuters poll.
Imports rose 3 percent, dashing forecasts for a 4.8 percent contraction and swinging from a 6.2 percent fall in September. Imports snapped 11 straight months of decline.
“The figures are in contrast to market expectations. The bad exports data may hit market confidence as we had expected the supply chain of exports to recover,” said Zhou Hao, economist at Guotai Junan International.
“The significant improvement in imports may come from rising domestic demand, in particular a demand to replenish stocks.”
The Baltic Dry Index, a bellwether gauge of global trade, hit its lowest since December 2020 in October, due to congestion in North American and European ports.
However, in a sign trade is finding some footing, South Korean exports to China fell at their slowest pace in 13 months in October.
China posted a trade surplus of $56.53 billion in October, compared with a $82.00 billion surplus expected in the poll and $77.71 billion in September.
Analysts say it is too early to tell whether recent policy support will be enough to shore up domestic demand, with property, unemployment and weak household and business confidence threatening a sustainable rebound.
China’s manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted in October, data showed last week, complicating policymakers’ efforts to revive growth.