China trade showed unexpected strength in August in a positive sign for global economic growth.
Imports rose by a better-than-forecast 1.5 percent over a year earlier, up from July’s 12.5 percent plunge and the first monthly gain since 2014, customs data showed Thursday. Exports fell 2.8 percent but that was better than expected and an improvement over the previous month’s 4.4 percent contraction.
The improvement in exports was a boost for Chinese leaders who are trying to protect millions of trade-supported jobs. Import growth suggested lackluster Chinese domestic demand might be recovering.
“A gradual recovery in global demand probably means some further upside to export growth in the coming quarters,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report. “Import growth should also pick up further on the back of stronger domestic demand and a further recovery in global commodity prices.”
Chinese economic growth held steady at 6.7 percent in the quarter ending in June but that was the lowest quarterly level since the aftermath of the 2008 global crisis.
The communist leadership has warned China’s economic outlook will be “L-shaped,” meaning a five-year-long decline is expected to level off but there is no sharp rebound in sight.
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