Chinese exports and imports dropped more than expected last month, cooling hopes of a revival in both external and domestic demand after a surge in March.
In US dollar terms, exports dropped 1.8% from last year, while imports fell 10.9% from a year earlier – down for an 18th consecutive month, according to data released by China’s General Administration of Customs.
The data failed to meet what economists polled by Reuters had expected – of a 0.1% drop in exports and a 5% decline in imports.
Zhou Hao, senior emerging market economist at Commerzbank in Singapore, was quoted by Reuters as saying: “Both exports and imports came in weaker than expected, in line with the soft trade performance across Asia, pointing to another challenging year for emerging markets.”
China’s trade surplus was $46bn in April, up from $34bn the year before.
Chinese exports to the U.S. dropped 9.3% in April compared to the previous year, while demand from Southeast Asia and Europe rose 6.4% and 3.2% respectively.
In yuan-denominated terms, exports rose 4.1% year on year in April, while imports fell 5.7%.
Bloomberg Intelligence economists Tom Orlik and Fielding Chen said: “China’s exports stayed positive in April, but with gains flattered by yuan depreciation,”
Adding: “Policy makers will likely remain in wait-and-see mode before deciding on further stimulus.”
China’s central bank announced on Saturday that foreign-exchange reserves rose $7.09 billion last month to $3.22 trillion.
Last month official data revealed GDP expanded at an annual rate of 6.7 per cent in January through March, suggesting China was beginning to stabilise after a slowdown last year.