China export growth seen slowing, loans surging in January
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's export and import growth likely cooled in January, a Reuters poll showed, underlining a broader slowdown in the world's second-largest economy, though the Lunar New Year holiday effect may overstate the soft momentum.
Weakness in China's imports could be bad news for the rest of the world, particularly for major commodity exporters such as Australia. HSBC estimates China will overtake the United States to become the world's biggest importer this year.
Bank loans in China are expected to see a typical seasonal surge in January as banks get fresh lending quotas at this time every year, underlining relatively stable credit demand from the real economy.
Many economists expect a soft slowdown in China's economy in 2014 as policymakers try to embrace slower but better-quality growth to cut reliance on investment and pursue sustainable development.
"Given the stable economic situation last year and increasing expectations over pushing forward reform, economic growth is facing increasing pressure in short-term," said Xie Yaxuan, an economist with China Merchant Securities in a note.
Fears of a sharper-than-expected loss of momentum in China were believed to be one contributing factor in a fierce global financial market selloff in January, with emerging markets hit particularly hard.
The median forecast of 19 economists polled by Reuters showed export growth likely slipped to 2.0 percent year-on-year from 4.3 percent in December, while import growth eased to 3.0 percent from 8.3 percent.
Analysts said the reported export data was distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday, during which time most factories shut for extended breaks, and last year's high base, which was inflated by speculative trade activities disguised as exports. Continued...