BEIJING, March 8 China posted its first monthly
trade deficit in three years in February as imports surged at
their fastest pace since early 2012, driven by its strong demand
for commodities from iron ore to crude oil and coal.
China's February exports unexpectedly fell 1.3 percent from
a year earlier, but imports expanded 38.1 percent, well above
economists' forecasts, customs data showed on Wednesday.
That left the country with a trade deficit of $9.15 billion
for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.
But China watchers have cautioned that trends in January and
February can be distorted by the long Lunar New Year holidays,
with business slowing down weeks ahead of time and many firms
scaling back operations or closing.
The holiday began in late January this year and in February
China's exports for January and February combined rose 4.0
percent from the same period last year, while imports surged
26.4 percent, suggesting there has been solid improvement in
demand at home and abroad despite any holiday distortions.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected February exports
from the world's largest exporter to have risen 12.3 percent, an
improvement from a 7.9 percent rise in January.
Imports had been expected to rise 20 percent, after growing
16.7 percent in January.
Analysts had expected China's trade surplus to fall to
$25.75 billion in February, versus January's $51.35 billion,
with growing attention on its large trade advantage with the
United States as new U.S. President Donald Trump ramps up his
(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong; Editing by Kim Coghill)