China's economy showed fresh signs of resilience in August, with trade data pointing to a sustained strengthening in global demand for goods from the country, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Exports continued to gather steam, rising 7.2% in August from a year earlier, according to data released on Sunday, Sept 8, by the General Administration of Customs. This was up from a 5.1% rise in July and a contraction of 3.1% in June. Imports rose 7% from a year earlier in August, down from 10.9% in July.
The overall picture was of a Chinese economy benefiting from progressive strengthening of demand in the U.S. and other important export markets. China is also continuing to stock up on raw materials for its industrial sector, the Journal says.
"China's back," believes Stephen Green of Standard Chartered Bank. "It won't be a strong recovery but it's increasingly clear we've bottomed."
August's trade numbers are the latest in a series of positive data releases, after overseas sales and factory output in July showed signs of improvement.
There are still some questions surrounding the current upswing's sustainability, the Journal says. Rising wages and a stronger currency dent the competitiveness of China's exports. Beijing's recent moves to slow lending growth—after years of credit-fueled economic expansion—could curtail investment and imports.
Still, two months of stronger data has increased optimism that the government will be able to hit its full-year target for gross domestic product growth of 7.5%. It also reduces the chances that leaders will introduce a major new stimulus policy.
China's trade surplus widened in August, with the difference between exports and imports growing to $28.5 billion, up from $17.8 billion in July, marking its highest level since January.
The recovery in China's overseas sales has been underpinned by stronger demand in the West and outperformance in exports to some Asian neighbors.
Shipments to the U.S. rose 6.1% on-year in August, up from 5.3% in July, which marked an improvement from shrinking sales earlier in the year.
Sales to countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—a 10-nation grouping that includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore—rose 30.8%, according to the Journal.