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China January Trade Data Better Than Expected

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China's foreign trade data for January came in stronger than expected with a surprise rise in exports and smaller decline in imports, official data showed on Thursday.

Exports rose 9.1 percent year-on-year in January, defying economists' expectations for a 3.2 percent fall. In December, exports dropped 4.4 percent.

Imports fell 1.5 percent year-on-year, which was much smaller than the 10 percent slump economists had forecast. Imports declined 7.6 percent in December.

The trade surplus came in at $39.16 billion, which was larger than the $34.3 billion economists had predicted.

"The January trade data were much stronger than anticipated but seasonal volatility caused by annual shifts in the timing of Chinese New Year make it difficult to get a good grip on underlying trends at this time of year," Capital Economics economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said.

"Looking ahead, the downbeat outlook for global growth means that this year is likely to be challenging for Chinese exporters, even if the ongoing US-China trade negotiations culminate in a deal," the economist said.

That said, cooling domestic demand and easing commodity price inflation will remain a headwind to imports in the near-term, the economist added.

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