Saturday, November 8, 2014

China's exports spike but data unreliable

Yesterday’s trade report out of China showed stronger than expected export growth, with trade surplus surging. While some of that can be explained by rising  trade with the US, China's exports to Hong Kong in particular grew by 24% YoY. This is indication that the export data may once again be suspect. With China’s currency appreciating against the dollar since June, it is likely that some exporters were placing FX bets (long CNY, short HKD) disguised as export proceeds.

Source: Reuters

There is little evidence of renewed export-driven economic acceleration. Market indicators from China continue to show growth moderation. Here are iron ore prices at China’s ports (via Jan 2015 iron ore futures).

Source: barchart

Moreover, the yield curve remains inverted with longer-dated rates declining - an indication that the market is not betting on strengthening growth.

It is possible that China may once again begin to depreciate the yuan (as it did early this year) in order to keep the real exports humming while shaking out some of the speculative FX trading activity.

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