China trade surplus beats expectations
China's trade surplus rose unexpectedly in August as exports surged despite Covid-19 shutdowns.
The unadusted trade surplus rose to $58.3bn from $56.6bn a month earlier, beating market expectations for a decline to $53.2bn.
Analysts had on average expected exports to slow but growth picked up to 25.6% from a year earlier from 19.3% in July. Imports also improved, growing by a third from 28.1% in July and beating a consensus estimate of 26.9% growth.
Freya Beamish, chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the figures bore out trends seen in Korean trade data that suggested Chinese exports were doing well despite restrictions to stem the Delta variant of Covid-19, including at the country's second-largest container port.
"We assume firms were eager to shift goods ahead of any further restrictions as Delta cases were rising and spreading geographically," Beamish said. "The partial closure of Ningbo-Zhoushan port seems to have had the effect of spurring on trade elsewhere in the country in an effort to get ahead of any further restrictions. When the virus retreated later in the month, the surge appears to have died down. We assume the drop off evidenced in the Korean data will continue this month."
The figures were a piece of good news for the world's biggest exporter and second-largest economy amid signs that its recovery is faltering. Figures released at the end of August showed China's services sector shrinking for the first time since the height of the country's Covid-19 crisis and factory orders declining