China Exports Exceed Estimates, Easing Concern Over Slump Risk

China's exports rose at the fastest pace in three months in September, easing concerns that the global economy is heading for the first recession since 2009.

Overseas shipments increased 9.9 percent from a year earlier, the customs administration said yesterday in Beijing. That was more than the 5.5 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of economists and a 2.7 percent gain in August. Imports rose 2.4 percent, leaving a $27.7 billion trade surplus, the biggest since June.

The International Monetary Fund warned this week of an alarmingly high risk of a deeper global slowdown unless officials in the U.S. and Europe address threats to their economies. China’s widening surplus may provide ammunition to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who pledges to designate the nation a currency manipulator if elected, a step the U.S. government hasn’t taken since 1994.

“We could see China’s export growth maintained at 8 to 9 percent in the fourth quarter,” said Liu Li-Gang, a Hong Kong- based economist with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ), citing improved U.S. consumer sentiment and favorable year- earlier bases for comparison. “But growth of more than 10 percent is unlikely as a recession in Europe won’t change China’s export outlook there.”

Anti-China rhetoric may become stronger in the lead-up to the presidential election on Nov. 6, said Liu, adding that the yuan, near a 19-year high against the dollar, may appreciate until then in response to the pressure. The Chinese currency closed last week at 6.2672 per dollar.

World Outlook

“Recession in the euro zone, the possible fiscal cliff in the U.S. and the dispute with Japan will likely cap the upside” for China’s exports in the months ahead, said Ding Shuang, a Hong Kong-based economist with Citigroup Inc., referring to looming U.S. spending cuts and tax increases, and a dispute between China and Japan over the ownership of islands.

The IMF’s steering committee yesterday added to cautions on the global outlook, saying in a statement in Tokyo that policy makers “need to act decisively to break negative feedback loops and restore the global economy to a path of strong, sustainable and balanced growth.”

The trade report was after data that showed slower-than- forecast loan growth in September and ahead of inflation and gross domestic product numbers next week. Banks extended 623.2 billion yuan ($99.5 billion) of local-currency loans, the central bank said Oct. 12. That compared with the median estimate of 700 billion yuan in a Bloomberg News survey of economists.

Money Supply

At the same time, China’s M2 money supply gained 14.8 percent in September, the fastest pace since June 2011, a central bank report showed yesterday. The nation’s foreign- exchange reserves, the world’s largest, rose to $3.29 trillion at the end of September from $3.24 trillion at the end of June, it said.

Premier Wen Jiabao is struggling to reverse a slowdown without swelling bad loans or fueling inflation as the Communist Party prepares for a once-a-decade leadership transition starting next month. The central bank has refrained from cutting interest rates since July, in contrast with its counterparts in South Korea, Brazil and Australia.

The IMF this week reduced its estimate for China’s growth this year to 7.8 percent, which would be the weakest pace since 1999, from 8 percent. Alcoa Inc. (AA), the largest U.S. aluminum producer, meanwhile, cut its forecast for global consumption of the metal on slowing Chinese demand.

U.S. Trade

The trade data indicated that the value of China’s exports to the U.S. exceeded its imports from the nation by about $21 billion. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in Tokyo yesterday that while “some progress” has been made toward a more balanced economic relationship with China, more is needed.

Also in Tokyo for IMF meetings, Chinese central bank Deputy Governor Yi Gang said that the absence of a credible plan for fiscal consolidation is slowing the U.S. recovery and hurting the rest of the world. Yi said that China’s growth remains “robust.”

China’s gross domestic product probably expanded 7.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey, the seventh quarterly deceleration.

The nation's exports climbed to a record last month as sales to the U.S. increased at the fastest pace in three months. Shipments to Japan rose for the first time since June and those to Southeast Asian nations jumped 25.5 percent. The gains helped counter a 10.7 percent drop in exports to the European Union.

Copper Shipments

Copper imports climbed to a four-month high in September while purchases of iron ore were the biggest in volume terms since January 2011, customs data show.

The trade surplus was higher than the $20.5 billion median forecast in a survey of analysts and compared with a $26.66 billion excess in August. The surplus for the first nine months rose 38 percent from a year earlier to $148.3 billion, customs data show.

Import growth compared with the median estimate in another Bloomberg News survey for a 2.4 percent gain. Inbound shipments recorded the first non-holiday drop in August since 2009.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Zheng Lifei in Beijing at lzheng32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net

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