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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Exports surge fuels China growth
A T-shirt factory in China's Zhejiang province
Clothing exports from China are causing international tension
Strong Chinese industrial output data has prompted predictions from some economists that the Asian giant may beat 2005 economic growth targets.

Industrial output rose 16.6% in May, compared with the same month last year, and a 16% jump in April.

Exports were a key reason, with big increases in sales of textiles, shoes and steel, official figures show.

Shares in the world's major mining firms rose, with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata all higher.

Exports from industrial enterprises were up 30.2% on year-earlier, with overseas sales of both textiles and shoes both up more than 30%, China's National Bureau of Statistics said.

Shoes, fabrics, steel

The European Union last week struck a deal with China to control the growth in China's exports of T-shirts and flax yarn to Europe. The US has imposed its own curbs on Chinese textile exports.

China's economy grew 9.5% in 2005.

The government is trying to cool runaway growth and has set a deliberately conservative 2005 target of 8%, but Western economists may now review their predictions, which converge at roughly 9% growth this year.

"Recent activity data from China all indicate a pick-up in growth momentum," said Goldman Sachs in a research note.

"There will be upward adjustment to Chinese growth forecasts for this year, which will put more pressure on commodity markets," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, an analyst at CFC Securities in Hong Kong.

Metal boom

Exports of items using ferrous metals were up 74.1%, according to China's official figures.

Shares in BHP Billiton rose 2% in London on Wednesday morning, while Rio Tinto was up 1.6%, and Xstrata 1.4%.

Worldwide prices for steel, copper, oil and shipping all rose last year in response to strong demand from China.

Copper prices hit a 16-year high in New York last week, as global stockpiles have been depleted by demand from factories in China.

Steel prices peaked in August 2004 and have since cooled slightly, but strong industrial growth in China could reverse that.

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