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Steep decline in China's January import/export figures

Beijing: Figures released yesterday show that Chinese exports dropped 17.5 percent in January compared with the same month the year before, the largest drop in a decade.
Imports fell even faster, plummeting 43 percent as Chinese factories bought less foreign raw materials and consumer demand weakened.
China COSCO, the country's largest container line, declined 5.33 percent yesterday on its Hong Kong trading on the news.
This year the Chinese New Year holiday fell in January, meaning that factories were closed for one to two weeks in January as workers left the coastal cities to spend the holidays with their families.
In December a drop of only 2.8 percent drop was recorded. A true picture of the post Christmas and Chinese New Year state of exports in China will not be available until March figures are released in April.
The January declines exceeded forecasts and were likely to dim hopes China's slump might be ending after data last week showed manufacturing improving and higher bank lending. The trade data was backed up by a UBS report out this week that showed blanket throughput falls across China's ports in January.
"The fact that imports are falling even faster than exports strongly suggests that processing exports will tank further in the coming months," Standard Chartered economist Stephen Green said in a report. "There is no bottom in sight." [12/02/09]


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