China's exports and imports for March both fell sharply from a year earlier, according to data released Monday. Exports dropped 15% from March 2014, widely missing expectations for a substantial jump, with Reuters having tipped a 12% gain and The Wall Street Journal citing forecasts for a 10% rise. Imports were likewise weak, falling 12.7%, against a projected drop of 12% in the Wall Street Journal survey. The resulting trade surplus totalled $3.1 billion for the month, a fraction of the $45.4 billion predicted by Reuters and well off from February's $60.6 billion. The Chinese stock markets seemed to largely ignore the data, however, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index up 0.4%, and the Shanghai Composite up 1.3% as broker stocks rallied on reports of further easing for investing rules in China. However, a 0.3% gain for the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia -- which counts China as its top trading partner -- evaporated after the data, leaving a 0.1% loss.
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