BEIJING, March 10 — China chalked up a US$31.5 billion (RM94.8 billion) trade deficit in February, its largest in at least a decade, as exports and imports rebounded from a seasonal slowdown caused by Lunar New Year holidays, customs data showed today.
Exports jumped 18.4 per cent while imports accelerated 39.6 per cent as factories returned to full time work to resume orders disrupted by the week-long holiday in January that delayed shipments and distorted the real trade picture.
Analysts polled by Reuters said investors should be cautious about reading too much into the monthly data in either January or February, but combine the two months to gauge the trend.
The wide range of forecasts for the month underscores why, with exports called between 5.1 and 65 per cent higher in February versus year ago levels, while imports were seen anywhere between down 13.5 per cent to up 48 per cent.
Exports in January fell 0.5 per cent from a year earlier, the worst showing since November 2009, while imports in January tumbled 15.3 per cent, raising concerns that domestic demand may be weaker than previously thought — even allowing for Lunar New Year factory shutdowns.
China's quarterly economic growth is widely forecast by analysts to slow to just over 8 per cent in the first quarter from 8.9 per cent in the previous quarter, marking the fifth consecutive quarter of slowdown and likely to put the economy on track for its slowest full year of growth in at least a decade. — Reuters