China releases worse-than-expected trade and growth data

<p>The country’s economy grew at its slowest pace in 25 years and imports fell.</p>

China's economy grew by 7.4 per cent in 2014, its weakest growth for almost 25 years, according to official figures published today (April 13th). The government also released trade data, which revealed exports fell more-than-expected, down 14.6 per cent in March from the year-ago period, while imports slid 12.3 per cent. 

The official March data leaves the country with a monthly trade surplus of 18.16 billion Chinese yuan (£1.99 billion) –  its smallest in 13 months. China’s March trade surplus comes after February’s record 370.5 billion yuan trade surplus.

"The elephant in the room is whether China's deterioration has endured," following softer industrial output and other data in January and February, Mizuho Bank said in a report seen by AP. "The silver lining is that a softer outcome under dis-inflationary conditions will allow more stimulus to propel a revival in growth."

Stimulus hopes

Analysts were surprised by the figures. "We can understand the imports fell because of falling imports of commodities, but exports fell so much, it was very much unexpected," said Shanghai-based analyst Nie Wen from Hwabao Trust, quoted by the BBC. He added that one major reason for the falling exports was yuan appreciation.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.8 per cent to 4,107.12 today on hopes that the government will take new measures to boost the economy. The central bank has cut interest rates twice since November and markets will be watching closely when the country releases its estimate for first-quarter gross domestic product on Wednesday.

Beijing has set a growth target of "about seven per cent" this year.

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