According to recent figures, China’s trade surplus jumped to $31.9 billion in January, easing concerns the world’s second-largest economy may be stuck in a slowdown.
The figure was up 14% from a year earlier and stronger than forecasts for a $23.7 billion surplus.
Imports rose by 10% from a year earlier to $175.27 billion – led by record shipments of crude oil, iron ore and copper.
Exports increased by 10.6% from a year earlier, far faster than analysts’ forecasts, to $207.13 billion.
The positive trade figures also add to expectations China will overtake the US as the world’s largest trading nation this year.
China’s trade surplus jumped to $31.9 billion in January, easing concerns the world’s second-largest economy may be stuck in a slowdown
China is the world’s largest exporter, and analysts had been expecting the data to reflect effects of the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in January this year.
During this period, factories and offices on the mainland tend to shut for long periods for workers to mark China’s biggest annual holiday.
Investors have been watching economic releases out of China closely as its growth affects the health of export-oriented countries such as Singapore and Australia.
China is expected to post its slowest growth in over a decade this year, which is likely to have a knock-on effect across the region.
Last month, financial markets nosedived after surveys of its manufacturing and services sectors indicated a slowdown in the economy.
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Spain is officially out of recession after first quarterly economic growth since 2011, according to data from the country’s National Statistics agency INE.
Spain’s GDP grew 0.1% in the July-to-September period, after contracting for the previous nine quarters.
Its growth confirmed last week’s estimates from the Bank of Spain.
Spain was one of the countries worst hit by the global economic crisis, with street riots and soaring unemployment.
The statistics mean Spain is officially out of recession.
Spain is officially out of recession after first quarterly economic growth since 2011
The INE said an increasing number of exports supported the growth, with a boost to the tourist industry from holidaymakers avoiding northern Africa and the Middle East.
Ben May, economist at Capital Economics, said the growth was encouraging and cited business surveys that suggested there “may be more to come in the near term”.
He said: “However, domestic demand is still contracting and against that backdrop, it’s hard to see a strong and sustained recovery.”
Spain’s economy has been ailing since its property bubble burst in 2008.
Its banks needed government bailouts from other European countries to survive, after they were left with hundreds of billions worth of euros in bad debts.
Since then, Spain has endured Europe’s highest level of unemployment, at 26%. There have been huge street protests in response to government austerity cuts and thousands of businesses have gone bust.
Spain’s government recently predicted the end of its recession was near, saying its reforms and cuts were paying off.
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Australia plans to raise the country’s debt limit by two-thirds to allay concerns it could face a future fiscal crisis.
The newly-elected conservative government is looking to raise the borrowing limit to A$500 billion ($486 billion).
Australia is forecast to reach its current A$300 billion ceiling in December.
Treasurer Joe Hockey said that he wanted to avoid a crisis similar to the recent US fiscal emergency.
“The debt limit needs to be set so as to provide sufficient headroom to ensure there is stability and certainty for the financial markets about the government’s capacity to finance its operations for the foreseeable future,” Joe Hockey said.
“We need not look any further than the recent events in the United States to realize how imperative for stability and certainty is for confidence.”
Treasurer Joe Hockey said that by raising Australia’s debt limit he wanted to avoid a crisis similar to the recent US fiscal emergency
Earlier this month, the US government was partially shutdown for 16 days after the Democrats and Republicans were unable to reach an agreement over the country’s budget and raising the debt ceiling.
The situation was resolved last week after Congress hammered together a last-minute deal to temporarily raise the debt limit until the end of the first week of February 2014.
However, financial markets were rattled by the US political deadlock, which brought the country closer to the possibility of defaulting on its debts.
There was little reaction in the Australian financial markets to Tuesday’s announcement.
Australian government debt is popular among many investors because of its top AAA credit rating.
That means it is regarded as the safest kind of investment by the ratings agencies looking at the risks associated with government borrowing, as well as for companies.
At the same time, Australia’s total debt, expressed as a percentage of its total economic output (GDP), is relatively low compared to other developed nations.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Australia’s debt is expected to be around 30% of its GDP this year, compared to nearly 106% for the US.
Joe Hockey said that the government was keen to keep its debt levels in check.
“We are not going to allow ourselves to get into the position that the United States is in where there’s tremendous uncertainty about the capacity of a country to live within its means,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Australian PM Tony Abbott is set to hold his first parliament sittings in late October, which will give the government up to six weeks to pass the legislation required to raise the debt limit.
The government is also set to face an audit commissioned by the Treasury, which is aimed at streamlining government services and reducing wasteful spending.
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The IMF has cut its forecast for global economic growth at the same time as lifting its UK growth projection.
The International Monetary Fund now expects global growth of 2.9% this year, a cut of 0.3% from July’s estimate. In 2014 it expects global growth of 3.6%, down 0.2%.
It cited weakness in emerging economies for the cut.
The forecast for UK growth this year received a significant upgrade to 1.4%, up from July’s estimate of 0.9%.
And for next year the IMF expects UK growth of 1.9%, up from July’s projection of 1.5%.
The IMF’s upgrades for its outlook on the UK are larger than those it made for any other country in its World Economic Outlook – its twice-yearly assessment of the global economy.
It credited recent data indicating higher consumer and business confidence, for the increase.
However, it warned that it would still take years for the UK economy to recover fully from the 2008 financial crisis. It suggested that the government could help boost growth by bringing forward planned public infrastructure spending, such as building new homes.
The IMF has cut its forecast for global economic growth at the same time as lifting its UK growth projection
The UK Treasury said the IMF upgrade showed the government’s economic strategy was working.
“But risks to the global economy remain high, and the recovery cannot be taken for granted. That is why the government will not let up in implementing its economic plan,” a spokesman added.
Despite the improvement in growth in advanced economies such as the UK and US, the IMF warned that a slower pace of expansion in emerging economies such as Brazil, China and India, was holding back global expansion.
The IMF expects growth in Russia, China, India and Mexico to be slower than it forecast in July.
In part, it says this is due to expectations of a change in policy by US central bank the Federal Reserve. Simply the expectation that the US could trim back its efforts to stimulate the US economy has already had an impact on interest rates in emerging economies, the IMF said.
It said an increasing belief that China’s growth rate would slow would also hit global growth.
The IMF expects the US to drive global growth.
But it warns that the political standoff over raising the US government’s borrowing limit, if it results in the US defaulting on its debt payments, “could seriously damage the global economy”.
The IMF expects growth of 1.6% in the US this year and 2.6% next year, down 0.1% and 0.2% from its July forecast.
In the euro area, the IMF says business confidence indicators suggest activity is close to stabilizing in peripheral economies, such as Italy and Spain, and already recovering in core economies such as Germany.
Overall, it predicts growth will fall 0.4% this year, an improvement of 0.1% on its July prediction, and grow 1% next year.
“In short, the recovery from the crisis continues, albeit too slowly,” said Olivier Blanchard, economic counselor at the IMF.
“The architecture of the financial system is evolving, and its future shape is still unclear. These issues will continue to shape the evolution of the world economy for many years to come.”