Chinese trade data tops expectations as imports and exports surge

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Chinese trade data topped expectations in May with imports and exports both growing at a faster annual pace than the levels reported in April.

According to China’s Customs Bureau, exports grew by 8.7% from a year earlier in US dollar terms, faster than the 8% pace of April and above the 7% increase forecast by economists.

Between January to May, exports increased by 8.2% compared to the the same period a year earlier.

Import growth also impressed, rising 14.8% from the levels of a year earlier. That was an improvement on the 11.9% pace of April and topped expectations for an increase of 8.5%.

In volume terms, imports of copper, crude oil and iron ore all increased, rising to 390,000 tonnes, 37.2 million tonnes and 91.52 million tonnes respectively.

The one exception was coal — likely due to supply disruptions along Australia’s east coast during the month — which fell to 22.19 million tonnes from 24.78 million tonnes in April.

In the first five months of the year, the value of imports lifted 19.5% from the same period in 2016. This reflects a combination of higher commodity prices along with increased demand.

As a result of the strength in imports, the trade surplus grew to $40.81 billion, below the $46.32 billion level expected.

It was slightly higher than the $38.05 billion surplus reported a month earlier.

Financial markets have reacted positively to the trade report, boding well for both Chinese and global demand, bidding up risk assets such as stocks, commodity futures and the commodity-linked Australian dollar in recent trade.

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