Chinese imports rose unexpectedly in August for the first time in two years, suggesting domestic demand could be picking up. The positive data puts the world's second-largest economy on more stable footing.
China imported 1.5 percent more goods in August than it did in the same month last year, marking the first year-on-year rise in imports since October 2014. It was the latest indicator that the health of the world's biggest trader in goods could be improving.
Exports also showed signs of improvement, dropping 2.8 percent on the year - a smaller dip than was forecast by economists. Taken together, the improved trade data amounted to a narrower trade surplus of $52.05 billion (46.22 billion euros) in August, compared to July's $52.31 billion.
The "big surprise" of the results was imports because they hinted at improving domestic demand, Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics told AFP. Volumes of key commodities, such as coal, iron ore and crude oil, all showed double-digit growth.
Much of the increased demand could be attributed to a recovery in commodity prices, but a flood of purchases after unusually heavy rains this summer also lifted imports. Many Chinese scrambled to replace their damaged automobiles after widespread flooding, and construction companies replenished their supplies of crude oil and iron ore as they helped rebuild.
If the uptick in China's trade data proves sustainable, a recovery - however incremental - in the world's second-largest economy would be a welcome reprieve from unease over sluggish growth there.
cjc/pad (AFP, Reuters)