China’s exports fell in May for the first time since February, data showed yesterday, breaking a two-month growth streak as a post-Covid rebound faded and adding to speculation that officials will unveil fresh stimulus measures.
Rising global inflation, the threat of recession elsewhere and geopolitical tensions with the United States have weakened demand for Chinese products.
That resulted in overseas shipments sinking 7.5 percent on-year last month, Customs figures showed, marking a sharp drop from an increase of 8.5 percent in April and much steeper than the 1.8 percent forecast in a Bloomberg survey.
China’s exports grew in March and April, snapping a run of five straight declines, when production was disrupted by sweeping lockdowns and delays at ports when authorities enforced their strict zero-COVID policy.
And the Chinese economy expanded by 4.5 percent in the first quarter of the year.
But that recovery has lost steam, with the economy weighed down by a debt-laden property sector, limp consumer confidence and a global economic slowdown.
Meanwhile, imports fell 4.5 percent in May, a smaller decline than April’s 7.9 percent contraction but better than the 8.0 percent estimated.
The data are the latest to highlight weaknesses in the world’s number two economy, with manufacturing activity shrinking in May for the second successive month.
Reports said yesterday that authorities have asked the country’s biggest banks to lower their deposit rates in a bid to boost the economy as it struggles.Analysts said such a move could indicate the People’s Bank of China was considering an interest rate cut as soon as this month.
The figures were “yet another disappointing data which will raise growth concerns and intensify expectations of more policy support”, Khoon Goh, at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, said.