China's trade data beats across the board

Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Chinese trade data continues to impress with annual import and export growth, along with the nation’s trade surplus, beating expectations in November.

According to China’s General Administration of Customs, imports grew by 17.7% in US dollar terms, above the 17.2% increase of October and forecasts for a smaller gain of 11.3%.

Reflecting the impact of currency movements over the year, imports grew by 15.6% in local currency terms, above the 12.5% level expected.

In volumes terms, imports of copper, crude oil, iron ore and coal all rose from a month earlier.

470,000 tonnes of copper were imported, up from 333,000 tonnes in October.

Crude oil demand also increased, lifting to 37.04 million tonnes from 31.03 million tonnes a month earlier. According to calculations from Reuters, that was the second-highest monthly total on record.

Iron ore imports also lifted, jumping to 94.54 million tonnes from 79.49 million tonnes in October. Coal imports grew marginally, rising from 22.05 million tonnes from 21.28 million tonnes.

Export growth also beat, lifting by 12.3% over the same period in US dollar terms, a sharp improvement on the 6.9% level of October and forecasts for an increase of 5%.

It was the fastest annual increase since March 2017.

In local currency terms, exports rose by 10.3% year-year, well above the 2% increase expected by economists.

Completing a hat-trick of data beats, the trade surplus swelled to $40.21 billion on the back of the acceleration in exports, up from $38.17 billion in October and ahead of forecasts for a decline to $35 billion.

In yuan terms, the surplus fell to 263.6 billion yuan, down from 285.4 billion yuan in October.

The data has helped lift riskier assets across the region, seeing stocks add to earlier gains and helping to reverse earlier losses in the Australian and New Zealand dollar’s and Chinese commodity futures.

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