China trade surplus narrows in February: Customs

BEIJING (AFP) - China's trade surplus narrowed month-on-month in February to US$15.3 billion (S$19.1 billion), the customs department said on Friday, in a month with fewer working days because of the Chinese New Year holiday.

In January, China had recorded a trade surplus of US$29.2 billion as the country maintained its economic recovery on improving demand.

The February surplus was still a major surprise, with the median forecast of 13 economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires predicting a deficit of US$16 billion.

But on a year-on-year basis, exports last month surged 21.8 per cent to US$139.4 billion, while imports dropped 15.2 per cent to US$124.1 billion, the General Administration of Customs said in a statement.

Investors are looking to gauge the strength of China's economic rebound after the economy grew an annual 7.8 per cent in 2012, its worst performance for 13 years, in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.

At the opening session of the national legislature on Tuesday, Premier Wen Jiabao set a target for 7.5 per cent economic growth this year, unchanged from the goal set for last year.