China's Exports Grow Less Than Forecast; Imports Growth Tops Expectations

China's imports from North Korea fell for the seventh month in a row, official data showed on Friday, after Beijing vowed to apply United Nations sanctions to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile tests.

Once again, China's imports were led by industrial resources as a year-long construction boom shows no signs of flagging, boosting demand for materials from steel to copper.

Speaking at a press conference, Customs administration spokesman Huang Songping said China's imports from North Korea had dropped by nearly 38 percent in September year-on-year, while exports were down 6.7 percent.

Data released by China's General Administration of Customs showed China had a US$1.07 billion trade surplus with North Korea in the first nine months of this year. The September volumes are up 10.3 percent from 390,000 tonnes in August, a level that had been hit for four straight months.

China's September iron ore imports rose to a record 103 million tonnes, up from 88.7 million tonnes in August, according to Reuters calculations.

China's exports expanded at a slower than expected pace but remained robust in September.

However, while the imports reading beat forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey, exports fell slightly short.

China's global trade surplus last month shrank 38.6 percent from the same time a year ago to US$28.5 billion.

Capital Economics' China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said the timing of the mid-Autumn festival this year also meant there were more working days last month than in September 2016, suggesting October figures should show a partial reversal. The surplus in September rose to US$28.08 billion versus US$26.23 billion in the previous month. The official factory gauge rose to a five-year high last month, and the International Monetary Fund this week raised its global growth forecast as well as its estimate for China.

Vanessa Coleman

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