0909 GMT September 19, 2018
The data also suggested further improvement in the global economy, with business activity and demand having picked up markedly this year in Europe and the United States, according to Reuters.
The upbeat readings will be welcome new for Beijing ahead of a twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress next week, at which President Xi Jinping is expected to tighten his grip on power and set out the government’s top political and economic priorities for the next five years.
Imports grew 18.7 percent in September from a year earlier, beating analysts’ forecasts for a 13.5 percent expansion and accelerating from 13.3 percent in August, customs data showed on Friday. The gain was stronger than the most optimistic forecast in a analysts poll.
Exports rose 8.1 percent, below forecasts of 8.8 percent but the most in three months and handily beating August’s 5.5 percent.
“Growth momentum is still quite strong and better than our previous expectations,” ANZ senior China economist Betty Wang said.
Once again, China’s imports were led by industrial resources as a year-long construction boom shows no signs of flagging and factories kept humming, boosting demand for materials from steel to copper.
Higher commodity prices greatly magnified the strength of the bounce, but volumes surged, too, pointing to still-solid underlying demand.
Iron ore imports rose to a record 103 million tonnes, from 88.7 million tonnes in August, according to calculations. Copper imports were the highest since March.
That left the country with a trade surplus of $28.47 billion, less than the near $40 billion expected and down from around $42 billion in August.
China’s foreign trade will likely grow at a double-digit pace this year if current conditions continue, the General Administration of Customs said.
In addition to pointing to buoyant demand, some of the surge in September imports may have been due to companies “front loading” supplies ahead of a week-long national holiday in early October, analysts said.
Capital Economics’ China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said the timing of the mid-Autumn festival this year also meant there were more working days last month than in September 2016, suggesting October figures should show a partial reversal.
“Nonetheless, today’s figures suggest that not only has strong foreign demand continued to prop up manufacturing activity in China but domestic demand remains resilient, too,” Evans-Pritchard said.