BEIJING - China's export growth probably lost some steam in November amid weakening demand and high cost pressures on exporters, while imports likely slowed slightly and concerns over the Omicron variant weighed on the outlook, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.
Exports in November were expected to have risen 19.0% from a year earlier, according to the median forecast of 26 economists in the poll, after growing 27.1% in October.
Imports were forecast to have risen 19.8% from a year earlier, the poll showed, compared with 20.6% in October.
China's booming exports have outperformed expectations for much of this year, but analysts expect them to slow eventually as an overseas surge in demand for goods tapers and high costs pressure exporters.
"After contributing 40% of the 9.8% y-o-y GDP growth in the first three quarters and half of the 4.9% GDP growth in Q3 this year, exports' contribution to China's real GDP growth may soon fall to zero," said analysts at Nomura in a note last month.
The world's second-largest economy has staged an impressive rebound from the pandemic but there are signs the recovery is losing steam. Power shortages, regulatory crackdowns and debt troubles in the property sector are weighing on China's recovery.
Analysts expect there will be more supportive policy measures in the coming months. China will cut the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves "in a timely way", state media on Friday quoted Premier Li Keqiang as saying.
Factory activity fell back into contraction in November as subdued demand and elevated prices weighed on manufacturers, a private business survey showed, while an official survey was more positive.
China's factory gate inflation hit a 26-year high in October as coal prices soared amid a power crunch in the country's industrial heartland, although power shortages have since eased.
China has not reported any cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, but its emergence could also add more pressure to the country's strict zero-tolerance policy on coronavirus cases.
"In China, where COVID protocols have remained stringent, the government has decided to increase the length of quarantine requirement for incoming ship crews," analysts at Barclays said in a note on Monday.
"This could push up freight costs again, potentially leading to more shipping delays."
(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Jacqueline Wong) ((Gabriel.Crossley@thomsonreuters.com; +86 10 5669 2127;))