China’s exports rose less than forecast for the first time in four months, fueling concerns about the outlook for trade and the quality of the data as the government said some companies file false customs declarations.
Shipments abroad increased 10 percent in March from a year earlier, the customs administration said today in Beijing, while imports rose by an above-forecast 14.1 percent, leaving an unexpected trade deficit of $880 million. An “astounding” 92.9 percent jump in exports to Hong Kong, the most in 18 years, raises questions on data quality, researcher IHS Inc. said.
The customs agency acknowledged concerns that the data may be overstated at a press briefing today while standing by its figures and saying the Hong Kong gains stem from different statistical methods. Sales to the U.S. and Europe both fell for the first time since November, leaving the world’s second- largest economy with weaker global demand to support a recovery.
“This 10 percent export growth is more real as it’s in line with other data” including power consumption, industrial production and transportation, Lu Ting, chief Greater China economist at Bank of America Corp. in Hong Kong, said in a note today. January and February’s “abnormally strong” gains were probably distorted by companies’ inflated reports, Lu said.
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