China’s May exports pick up pace, top forecast in boost to economic recovery

By Thomson Reuters Jun 6, 2024 | 10:28 PM

By Joe Cash

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s exports grew more quickly and for a second month in May, suggesting factory owners are managing to find buyers overseas and providing some relief to the economy as it battles to mount a durable recovery amid a protracted property crisis.

Outbound shipments from the world’s second-largest economy grew 7.6% year-on-year last month, customs data showed on Friday, beating a forecast 6.0% increase in a Reuters poll of economists and a 1.5% rise seen in April.

Imports increased 1.8% in May, slowing from a 8.4% jump in the previous month.

Over recent months, a flurry of data has shown different parts of the $18.6 trillion economy recovering at varying speeds, heightening uncertainty about the outlook.

While first quarter growth blew past forecasts and strong March export and output data suggested improving global demand might aid officials’ efforts to get the economy back on a more even keel, more recent indicators reflecting soft domestic consumption have eroded much of that earlier optimism.

A protracted property sector crisis remains the biggest drag on China’s economy, with low investor and consumer confidence hurting domestic consumption and undermining business activity.

Adding to the worries for policymakers, both the new orders and new exports orders sub-indices of a factory owners survey run by the National Bureau of Statistics for May tipped back into contraction after two months of growth.

However, Friday’s trade data should give authorities some breathing space as they continue their efforts to foster a broad-based economic recovery.

The International Monetary Fund last month upgraded its China growth forecast for 2024 in line with Beijing’s growth target of “around” 5%, but warned of risks to the economy from the property troubles.

China’s trade surplus grew to $82.62 billion last month, compared with a forecast of $73 billion and $72.35 in April.

(Reporting by Joe Cash; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)