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Foreign Trade

China trade buoys upswing hopes

Chinese exports surged in December after a seven-month slowdown, boosting hopes the world's second-biggest economy might have turned a corner. But the good December data couldn't salvage a weak trading year.

Chinese exports jumped a stunning 14 percent in December compared with the same month a year ago, providing reason for optimism, the country's national custom bureau said Thursday.

Imports rose 6 percent year-on-year, after zero growth in November, it added.

The strong rebound gave rise to hopes that a seven-month growth slowdown in trade of the world's second-biggest economy might have come to an end.

In overall 2012 trade figures, which were also released Thursday, China recorded only disappointing growth of 6.2 percent for the whole year, widely missing the government's target of a 10-percent expansion in trading volume. By comparison, China's total volume of trade, including both exports and imports, surged 22 percent in 2011.

In addition, the country's trade surplus again rose sharply by 48 percent in 2012 to hit a four-year high of 231 billion euros ($301 billion), which in the past was a source of friction with China's trading partners.

Zheng Yuesheng, spokesman for the national customs bureau, told reporters that the slow global economic recovery and weak international demand, as well as downside pressure on the domestic economy weighed on the 2012 results.

Although Zheng predicted the negative factors to remain in place, he said: "We expect trade growth in 2013 to be slightly better than 2012."

The Chinese trade figures caused global stock markets to rise on Thursday, as investors appeared more confident that China may have finally emerged from its 2012 growth weakness.

uhe/kms (AFP, dpa)