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China's trade likely lost steam in Aug as demand shrinks

BEIJING : China's export growth likely lost steam in August amid weakening global demand, while imports were also seen slowing due to sluggish consumption and a property crisis, raising concerns about economic momentum, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

Exports in August were expected to have risen 12.8% from a year earlier, according to the median forecast of 26 economists in the poll, after growing 18.0 per cent in July.

The double-digit growth suggested booming exports remained one of the major drivers of the world's second-biggest economy, but analysts expect them to slow as surging inflation cripples overseas demand and China's zero-COVID policy disrupts production and business activity.

"We see signs of slowing export momentum in August. Domestically, trade-related cargo throughput in China's eight major ports (including imports and exports) increased 0.9 per cent year-on-year in August (till 20th) versus 14.7 per cent in July," Citi analysts said in a note.

Both of the official and private-sector factory activity surveys showed their new export order sub-indexes remained in contraction last month, pointing to a downturn in exports.

Imports were forecast to have risen 1.1 per cent, the poll showed, compared with 2.3 per cent in July.

South Korea's exports to China, a leading indicator for China's imports, extended losses for a third month in August.

But Goldman Sachs analysts expected import growth to bounce back to 5 per cent.

"Import growth would be supported by more working days, although this could be partially offset by lower commodity price inflation," Goldman Sachs said.

This would leave a narrower but still sizable trade surplus at $92.7 billion, compared with a record $101.26 billion surplus in July, according to the poll.

China's economy rebounded from extensive and stringent COVID lockdowns in June but there are signs the recovery is losing momentum in August.

Protracted weakness in production amid fresh virus flare-ups, a power crunch due to the worst heatwaves in decades and a prolonged property downturn are weighing on its recovery.

The government last week said it will publish new economic measures this month, suggesting an urgency for policymakers to revive the sluggish economy. China also cut its benchmark lending rate and lowered the mortgage reference by a bigger margin last month.

"Despite an easing of fiscal and monetary policy, the zero-COVID policy and correcting property market have hurt domestic demand," Moody's economists said in a report, downgrading forecast of China's GDP growth in 2022 to 3 per cent from 3.4 per cent. (Poll compiled by Devayani Sathyan; Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: Reuters

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