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China February Exports Plunge; Import Growth Accelerates

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Chinese exports declined unexpectedly, while growth in imports accelerated in February, taking the trade balance surprisingly to a negative zone.

Exports declined sharply by 18.1 percent, reversing the 10.6 percent increase in January, data from the General Administration of Customs showed Saturday. The decline was in contrast to a 7.5 percent rise forecast by economists.

On the other hand, imports grew 10.1 percent, when growth was forecast to slow to 7.6 percent from 10 percent.

Consequently, the trade balance showed a deficit of $22.98 billion compared to a surplus of $31.86 billion seen in January. Economists were expecting a surplus of $14.5 billion.

The trade figures for January and February are usually distorted by long Lunar New Year holiday.

Combined exports for January and February decreased 1.6 percent, while imports gained 10 percent. As a result, the trade surplus declined 79.1 percent to $8.89 billion.

Nonetheless, the nation intends to achieve 7.5 percent trade growth this year. Early this week, the government maintained its 7.5 percent economic growth target for 2014.

Purchasing Managers' survey showed that the Chinese manufacturing sector contracted further in February amid faltering demand both at home and abroad. The overall private sector shrank, ending a six-month sequence of growth despite continuing improvement in the services sector.

The National Bureau of Statistics is slated to release consumer and producer prices data on Sunday.

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