China's third-quarter trade numbers will be a telling indicator of the country's direction. MAPI figures show that the country's export growth already dropped in the second quarter to 3% from 19% in the first quarter. That one data point, though, is not enough to decide whether China's manufacturing economy is in trouble, says Ernest Preeg, a MAPI economist and trade expert. "If you take the whole first half of the year, you still have exports rising pretty rapidly and the whole trade surplus growing," he says. "We really have to see the third and the fourth quarters to see if there's a real underlying change of direction."
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