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China February exports jump 46%

Published:Thursday | March 11, 2010 | 12:00 AM

China's exports rose in February in a new sign of growing global demand that could help persuade officials to let the Chinese currency rise.

Exports were up 45.7 per cent over a year earlier, the Chinese customs agency reported on Wednesday, beating analyst forecasts of 35 to 40 per cent growth. Imports surged 44.7 per cent, the agency said, reflecting growing demand in China as it emerges from the global crisis.

"China's trade is extending its recovery," said Zhu Jianfang, an economist for Citic Securities in Beijing. "Exporters are getting more orders these days."

February's growth rate was boosted by comparison with last year's weak trade amid the global downturn and came despite the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday when many companies shut down.

Zhu said the data increase chances the government might allow China's currency, the yuan, to rise in value.

Beijing has held the yuan steady against the dollar for 18 months to help Chinese exporters but is under pressure from Washington and other trading partners that say it is undervalued and is swelling China's trade surplus.

Combining data from January and February shows exports surged 31.4 per cent during the period from a year earlier, the customs agency said. Analysts say looking at that two-month period compensates for the distortion of the Lunar New Year holiday and produces a more accurate picture of China's trade.

In a reflection of stronger global trade, China's total February imports and exports were up 45.2 per cent from the same month last year. China overtook Germany in 2009 as the world's top exporter.

China's central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, said last Saturday that Beijing will be "very cautious" about easing exchange-rate controls because the global economic outlook is still uncertain.