Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Wednesday, 11 June 2008 11:18 UK

Oil costs hit China trade surplus

An oil pipeline
Oil prices have surged to nearly $140 a barrel recently

China has seen its trade surplus fall 10% in May from a year earlier after a surge in the cost of imported energy and other raw materials, figures show.

The trade surplus was $20.2bn (10.3bn) compared with $22.45bn a year earlier, after imports rose by a more than expected 40% year-on-year to $100.3bn.

But exports also beat forecasts, showing how resilient the economy was despite a US slowdown, analysts said.

While China's surplus is tipped to slow, it is still seen remaining high.

"Robust export growth could dispel domestic concerns that a stronger yuan is hurting exports too much," said Gene Ma, head economist at China Economic Monitor.

Dwyfor Evans, an economist at fund management firm State Street, said: "We were expecting the export components to slow down marginally. But it doesn't look as though that is happening at all."

Imports of oil rose 25% in May compared with a year earlier, reversing a fall in April, with refiners seeking to ensure fuel supplies before the Olympic Games in August.

While May's surplus fell year-on-year it rose from $16.7bn in April.

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