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UPDATE 1-China export growth slows in December but tops forecasts; imports quicken

14 Jan 2021 / 10:48 H.

    * Exports +18.1% y/y in Dec vs +15% poll forecast

    * Imports +6.5% y/y in Dec vs +5% poll forecast

    * 2020 trade performance robust despite pandemic disruptions (Adds details, background)

    BEIJING, Jan 14 (Reuters) - China's exports grew more than expected in December, albeit at a slower pace than the month before, as global demand for Chinese goods remained solid, while import growth quickened, customs data showed on Thursday.

    Exports rose 18.1% in December from a year earlier, slowing from a 21.1% jump in November. Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected exports to grow 15% year-on-year last month.

    Imports meanwhile rose 6.5% in December from a year earlier, quickening from 4.5% growth in November and beating expectations for a 5% increase in the Reuters poll.

    Analysts have said Chinese exports will continue to be supported by demand for medical supplies and work-from-home products in major trading partners struggling with fresh waves of coronavirus infections.

    But there are some concerns that a rise in raw material prices and a recent rally in the local currency could squeeze exporters' profits. The onshore yuan strengthened 6.7% in 2020 -- its first annual rise in three years.

    China posted a trade surplus of $78.17 billion in December. Analysts in the poll had expected the trade surplus to narrow to $72.35 billion from $75.40 billion in November.

    Its trade surplus with the United States narrowed to $29.92 billion in December from $37.42 billion in November. (Reporting by Stella Qiu, Lusha Zhang and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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