(AP) China reported its April trade growth accelerated in a possible positive sign for its shaky economic recovery.
Exports rose 14.7 percent over a year earlier, up from March's 10 percent growth, customs data showed Tuesday. Imports gained 16.8 percent, up from the previous month's 14.1 percent.
The stronger data suggest China's economic growth might be strengthening after the first quarter's unexpected decline to 7.7 percent from the previous quarter's 7.9 percent.
Some analysts have suggested Chinese trade figures are distorted by reporting errors and unreliable as an economic indicator. Still, April's stronger numbers might help to reassure companies and investors after the weaker growth numbers jolted global financial markets.
Surveys by HSBC Corp. and a Chinese industry group show Chinese manufacturing growth weakened in April. HSBC said new export orders fell for the first time this year.
Some analysts have warned China's recovery is being shored up by state-led investment and bank lending and could be vulnerable if trade or investment weakens. The weaker-than-expected first quarter numbers prompted the World Bank and private sector analysts to trim forecasts for full-year growth, though to still robust levels of about 8 percent.
Chinese leaders are trying to nurture self-sustaining growth driven by domestic consumption and reduce reliance on trade and investment. But consumer spending is growing more slowly than they want.
April's stronger gains in imports compared with exports caused China's global trade surplus to narrow by about 1 percent, though to a still-wide $18.2 billion.
China's trade surplus with Europe narrowed by 32 percent from a year earlier to $7.9 billion. Exports to Germany fell 7.2 percent while those to France declined by 6.7 percent.
The trade gap with the United States narrowed by 13 percent to $14.7 billion.
General Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese): www.customs.gov.cn