Global recovery buoyed by China trade
Beijing - China's imports and exports were much stronger than expected
in November, with robust numbers that could clear the way for the
central bank to raise interest rates as soon as this weekend.
data on Friday also offered a double hit of healthy news for the global
economy: a reminder that Chinese demand was still growing apace and an
indication that the US and European recoveries are picking up steam.
China is South Africa's single largest trade partner.
Beijing has been slow to tighten monetary policy this year, partly for fear of a double-dip recession in the developed world.
with inflation now running at its fastest clip in more than two years
and external demand on a firmer footing, many analysts are looking for a
more aggressive mix of rate rises, lending restrictions and higher
reserve requirements for banks.
"Resilient trade is supportive to
increase policy tightening, and China's economic policy is shifting
from growth to taming inflation, mopping up liquidity and curbing asset
bubbles," said Isaac Meng, an economist with BNP Paribas in Beijing.
imports rose 37.7% from a year earlier to easily top forecasts for a
24.2% increase, powered by China's voracious appetite for commodities.
imports have developed a habit over the past two years of surprising on
the upside. In that respect, the 34.9% jump in exports, above market
expectations for a 22.0% increase, was the bigger surprise.
shows the US economy is recovering well," said Wang Han, an economist at
CEBM in Shanghai. "The central bank will raise reserve requirements
this weekend and then interest rates next week."
strength was broad-based. Exports to the United States were up 32.2%,
the strongest rise since August. Shipments to the European Union, its
biggest trading partner, climbed 33.8%.
On an annualised,
seasonally adjusted basis, China's month-on-month export growth soared
to triple digits, economists at Goldman Sachs said.
The trade data boosted the main Chinese stock index to close up 1.1%. It had been flat before the release of the data.
Pressure on the yuan
The volume of imports and exports both set monthly records, the customs authority said in a statement.
left China with a hefty surplus of $22.9bn in November, the seventh
straight month of impressive trade performance. During that stretch, its
average surplus has been $22.2bn.
That could fuel fresh
criticism of China's exchange rate regime. The United States and Europe
say an undervalued currency gives Chinese exporters an unfair advantage
in global markets.
Even without criticism, rising inflation in China could put upward pressure on the yuan.
trade surplus data comes at a time when domestic inflation is rising,
indicating that the pace of yuan appreciation against the dollar could
quicken next year," said Lu Zhengwei, an economist at the Industrial
Bank in Shanghai.
Chinese consumer price inflation may have hit 5.1% in the year to November, a 28-month high, state media reported on Friday.
leaders on Friday opened the three-day Central Economic Work
Conference, a gathering where they will set the policy direction for
The politburo, the Communist Party's ruling body, set
the tone for the meeting last week when it announced a shift to a
"prudent" monetary policy from the "appropriately loose" stance of the
past two years.
The politburo also repeated a long-standing pledge to bring China's trade into better balance by promoting imports.
trade surplus has in fact fallen over the past two years, a product of
both weakening external demand because of the global financial crisis
and Chinese demand steadily increasing on the back of the economy's
The trade surplus is on track to drop to around $190bn this year, a reduction of nearly 40% from a peak of $295.5bn in 2008.
bank data showed Chinese banks extended 564 billion yuan in new loans
in November and M2 money supply rose in the month by 19.5% from a year
In separate data, the National Bureau of Statistics said
property prices edged up 0.3% in November from a month earlier, while
real estate investment rose 36.7% from a year earlier.
The property sector has borne the brunt of China's tightening this year, with the government determined to root out speculation.
said the buoyant figures should help ease worries about the possibility
of collateral damage to the economy from the measures to cool the
red-hot housing market.