China trade surplus hits record as medical-exports jump and crude prices plunge

China May trade surplus data

  • Trade surplus $62.93B vs $41.40B expected
  • Prior $45.33
  • Exports +1.4% y/y
  • Imports -3.3% y/y (USD)

This data was out Saturday and it’s way off consensus but it makes a great deal of sense. The first thing is that China imports massive amounts of oil and with crude prices very low in May, that’s a big help. Prices of other imports like soybeans and natural gas were also low. The value of auto imports also shrunk by 31.3% as commerce slowed down.

Secondly, exports of medical devices were up 88.5%. That’s a result of the virus and doesn’t include a 25.5% rise in textiles, which is the category that includes masks.

Finally, the resumption of Chinese activity in April/May after virus closures led to a backlog of orders that needed to be filled.

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