A big trade surplus has helped push China’s GDP above second quarter expectations, bringing some welcome news for Beijing bean counters at last.

Amid a flagging stock market, real GDP returned to 7% for Q2, meaning it is bang on the government’s target growth level. In June, exports returned to health, expanding by 2.8% following an identical contraction over the previous month.

The trade surplus for the quarter stands at some US$136.7bn, while the first half trade surplus of US$2.576bn is up 160% on the previous year. The surplus was widened in accordance with a fall in import volumes, partly attributable to the low cost of commodities.

“The government could not have hoped for a more perfect set of data. Real GDP growth of 7% was a strong out-turn for the economy and above our forecast of 6.8%. It reflects an outsized contribution from the financial services sector, which boomed for much of April-June. The massive goods trade surplus recorded in the second-quarter will have also lifted economic growth,” Tom Rafferty of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in Beijing tells GTR.

It’s thought that without the timely boost in exports, the economy would have grown by less than 6% in the second quarter: a level that most governments can but dream of, but which would have been well below targets set by Beijing.

ANZ’s chief economist for China Li-Gang Liu described the trade performance as a “new normal” in a research note, but there will be concerns as to whether the growth can hold amid the crises unfolding in the EU – China’s largest trading partner.

“Growth in the second half of the year will depend on domestic demand. The acceleration in fixed-asset investment and retail sales growth highlighted in today’s data release bodes well in this regard. The property sector is showing signs of warming up after a prolonged slump,” Rafferty says.

The Chinese government has been extremely active in market intervention of late, injecting further fiscal stimuli into the economy on multiple occasions this year, and engaging in an unprecedented stock market correction earlier in July, in a bid to steady market volatility.

Analysts, however, are warning against further stimulus measure, with the EIU predicting an end to the pattern of slashing interest rates, while continuing to forecast annual growth of 6.8%.

Others, such as Julian Evans-Pritchard at Capital Economics are predicting a recovery in imports, which while signalling a fall in the trade surplus, may indicate recovering domestic demand within China.

“We expect import growth to continue to rebound as policy support helps to stabilise domestic demand and the sharp fall in global commodity price during the second half of last year provides a much weaker base for comparison for import value,” he writes in a research note.