Surprisingly strong Chinese trade data for January are looking like an outlier, given this week’s soggy numbers from Japan and Korea
A week is a long time in global trade, apparently. Weak data from Japan and Korea this week suggest stronger-than-expected January trade numbers from China released last week were a blip. For investors focused on the outcome of U.S.-China trade talks, the message is clear: Pay more attention to the global slump that’s already under way.
The discrepancy between Chinese and Japanese trade data is one bad sign for global economy optimists. Chinese statisticians recorded a 2% month-over-month fall in imports from Japan in January, while Japan recorded a 31.7% fall in exports to China over the same period. That’s the biggest divergence between the two data sets in eight years.
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