CHINA SURPRISES WITH EXPORT-LED MARCH TRADE SURPLUS
* $5.35 bln surplus confounds expectations of $1.3 bln deficit
* Exports up 8.9 percent in March vs year ago, ahead of consensus
* Imports up 5.3 percent in March vs year ago, below consensus
* Exports to U.S. up 10.4 percent vs year ago
Reuters, April 10, 2012
BEIJING, April 10 (Reuters) - China returned to an export-led trade surplus in March, heralding the prospect that the global economy may be passing its low point in the current cycle and lifting overseas orders just in time to compensate for a slowdown in domestic demand.
The trade surplus of $5.35 billion last month confounded expectations of a $1.3 billion deficit as exports grew faster than expected and import growth eased from a 13-month peak, customs data showed on Tuesday.
The data reinforced the view of most analysts that China's trade-sensitive economy is set for a soft landing, with GDP growth likely to have eased for a fifth successive quarter to 8.3 percent in the first three months of 2012 and remaining on course for its slowest year of expansion in a decade.
"The trade data looks okay... it shows the global economy is recovering, albeit slowly," said Zhou Hao, an economist with ANZ Bank in Shanghai.
"Given that China had a trade surplus in the first quarter versus a deficit in the Q1 last year, it indicates a positive contribution to GDP growth. We reckon Q1 GDP growth should be 8.6 percent. I think the market is a bit too pessimistic about China's economy."
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