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China's February exports surge but imports fall

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March 7, 2013 11:12 PM EST | AP

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HONG KONG — China's exports surged more than expected last month in a possible sign of stronger global demand.

Exports leaped 21.8 percent in February, slower than the 25 percent growth recorded in January but still a surprise to economists who had been forecasting single-digit growth for the month. That's because the timing of a major holiday had been expected to crimp shipments.

Imports fell 15.2 percent last month, a sharp turnaround from 28 percent growth in January, according to data released Friday. That suggests weaker domestic demand but the picture is clouded by Lunar New Year holidays.

China's trade growth has been rebounding in recent months in a sign of recovery in the world's second biggest economy.

February had been expected to be weak because the Lunar New Year holiday fell during the month, leaving fewer work days as businesses shut for up to two weeks. Last year the holiday occurred in January, which flattered the performance of trade in the first month of this year.

"We are impressed by China's ability to expand its exports so strongly despite a muted external environment," Darius Kowalczyk, a strategist with Credit Agricole CIB said in a report.

Exports rose to $139.4 billion while imports declined to $124.12 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $15.2 billion.