Weak trade data in April '15. Fx and slow commodity demand primarily to blame.

Trade numbers were in the negative YoY in April.  Much of the export decline can be explained by a strong currency vs. trade partners, as Beijing has refrained from weakening the CNY to boost competitiveness. The CNY was up roughly 19% vs. the EUR and 15% vs. the JPY over the last year, feeding through to the declines in exports. We should expect to see weak exports for months to come, which will be a drag on overall growth prospects this year.

Imports, one of the best gauges of short-term activity outlooks, declined significantly, -16% from last year.  Much of this is a result of commodity price declines, but after accounting for price declines the underlying import number is probably somewhere around -7-8% on the year.

Commodity exporting countries continue to feel the brunt of China's import demand weakness.  This will continue until Beijing's fiscal and monetary stimulus reach the broad economy, and/or the housing market turns back to the positive.

My import and commodity demand forecasts are still hinting at continued declines over the next few months.

Commodity imports on a volume basis:

Soybeans -18% YoY, iron ore -4% YoY, copper -5% YoY, crude oil up 9% YoY.