In another sign that the Chinese stock market is not a reflection of the broader economy. China on Wednesday reported that its exports outperformed many of its regional peers though total trade fell in December after the country let the yuan depreciate sharply,
“The trade data support our view that, despite turmoil in Chinese financial markets, there has not been a major deterioration in its economy in recent months,” Daniel Martin, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.
The General Administration of Customs reported that exports fell 1.4% year over year, a much smaller decline that the 8% drop expected by Reuters’ consensus estimate and the 6.8% plunge in November.
Compared with Taiwan and South Korea, two other nations feeling the effects of weak overseas demand, China sharply outperformed its neighbors.
Meanwhile, imports fell for the 14th straight month, down 7.6% in December. Still, the number came in much better than the 11.5% drop economists had predicted and the 8.7% decline in November. This may have been due to factories taking advantage of falling commodity prices to stock up on crude oil, iron ore and other materials. China’s crude oil imports hit a record high, while copper imports were the second highest on record, reported Reuters.
The combination produced a $60.09 billion trade surplus for December, compared with economists’ expectations of $53 billion and November’s $54.1 billion, reported Reuter.
“Another large trade surplus provides a cushion for the People’s Bank of China in the face of soaring capital outflows,” Capital Economics’ Martin said.
While Asian stock markets cheered the China data surprise, Chinese stocks fell. Both of Japan’s benchmarks, the Nikkei 225 and Topics indexes gained about 2.9%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index and South Korea’s Kopi advanced by about 1.3%.
However, the joy didn’t spread to the A-shares. The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index lost 2.4% to 2,950 and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange Composite Index tumbled 3.5% to 1,791. The CSI 300 index of the 300 largest stocks in China, fell 1.9% to 3,156.