China stocks surge after surprise drop in exports on expectations of more stimulus

SHANGHAI (Bloomberg) - China's stocks climbed to the highest level since March 2008 as an unexpected drop in the nation's exports failed to check a world-beating equity rally. A gauge of foreign-currency traded shares jumped 9 per cent in Shanghai.

China Merchants Bank Co. climbed to a five-year high after resuming trading and announcing plans to sell shares. Almost all B shares traded on mainland exchanges gained by the 10 per cent daily limit. Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd. led a slump by Hong Kong retailers after China limited visitors to the city.

The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.4 per cent to 4,087.96 at 11:16 a.m. The gauge has jumped 73 per cent in the past six months, the most among 92 benchmark indexes globally, on speculation the government will take measures to bolster growth. Data today showed overseas shipments fell 14.6 per cent in March from a year earlier in yuan value, while imports also slumped 12.3 per cent.

"The trade figures aren't good but that'll lead to market expectations of more stimulus," said Wu Kan, a money manager at Dragon Life Insurance Co. in Shanghai. Investors piled into B shares after they lagged behind gains in A shares, he said.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index rallied 1.7 per cent, while the Hang Seng Index added 0.5 per cent.