By JOE McDONALD – 1 hour ago
BEIJING (AP) — China's trade growth collapsed in November as global consumer demand plunged, adding to pressure on Beijing to reverse a worsening economic slump and avert heavy job losses, data showed Wednesday.
November's exports fell 2.2 percent from the year-earlier period, the first decline in seven years, the government reported. That was down sharply from October's export growth of 19.1 percent and well below analysts' forecasts of a 13 to 15 percent rise. Imports fell by 17.9 percent, pushing China's trade surplus to a new high of $40.1 billion.
The decline adds to mounting signs that China's downturn is worsening in areas from manufacturing to real estate to auto sales. Beijing has launched a massive stimulus package to boost growth, but it could be months before the effects are felt and its impact is unclear.
"The economy has almost ground to a halt. Job losses will be very significant, and the risk of social unrest is rising," said JP Morgan economist Frank F.X. Gong. "They urgently need to stimulate growth to generate jobs and keep society stable."
JP Morgan's Gong said the economy might not grow at all from the final quarter of this year to the first quarter of 2009.
"China's exports might not show any growth, and might continue to decline into early 2009," he said.