China posted stronger-than-expected import growth in August, reinforcing views that the world's second-largest economy is still expanding at a healthy pace despite tighter policy.
China's imports grew 13.3% from a year earlier, official data showed on September 8, handily beating analysts' forecast of 10%, after rising 11.0% in July.
Imports of industrial commodities continued to lead the way as soaring steel prices boost Chinese mills' appetite for high-quality foreign iron ore.
Exports showed some signs of softening, however, with growth cooling to 5.5% from a year earlier, roughly in line with analysts' forecasts for a 6.0% increase but down from 7.2% in July.
Export growth was the slowest since shipments fell in February, but may not necessarily suggest broader global demand is faltering.
Global manufacturing activity expanded strongly in August, adding to views that demand was holding up in the current quarter.
Also, China has tended to lag export trends seen elsewhere in North Asia this year. Neighboring South Korea last week posted sharply higher shipments for August.
The surging yuan is complicating China's trade picture.
Some Chinese exporters have been complaining of losses due to a sharp turnaround in the yuan currency, which has now gained around 7% against the U.S. dollar so far this year, much of it in the past few months.
The Chinese currency rose 2.1% against the dollar in August alone.
The mixed performance left China with a trade surplus of $41.99 billion for August, the General Administration of Customs said, the lowest since May.
Analysts were expecting China's trade surplus to have widened to $48.6 billion in August from July's $46.73 billion.
Improving global demand, particularly for electronics, has boosted exports for China and other trade-reliant Asian economies this year.
But investors have been more focused on its strong appetite for imports, particularly industrial commodities such as iron ore and coal, which have sparked a global price rally and fuelled higher earnings and share prices for many resource-related companies.
(Writing by Alex Guo Editing by Harry Huo)
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