China logs strong exports, imports, as economy gains steam

Chinese trade data continues to impress with annual import and export growth, along with the nation's trade surplus, beating expectations in November.

Exports were at 4.35 million tonnes in January-November, up 3.7 percent year on year, customs said.

In yuan terms, the surplus fell to 263.6 billion yuan, down from 285.4 billion yuan in October. The official factory gauge unexpectedly rose to near a five-year high in November, despite campaigns to clean up the environment and the financial system.

As global demand has surprised with its strength, consumers have lapped up Chinese goods at a rapid rate this year, giving the economy a boost and providing policy makers room to tighten rules to curb high-risk lending.

Still, the world's largest exporter faces uncertainty.

Imports jumped 17.7 percent year-on-year to $177.1 billion, leaving a monthly trade surplus of $40.2 billion.

Exports are growing amid a global tech boom ahead of the holiday season, they said.

Some of China's northern provinces have ordered factories to throttle back or halt output to reduce notoriously thick winter smog, which will likely discourage demand for raw materials shipments such as iron ore.

Customs is expected to release dollar-denominated trade data later on Friday.

Iron ore imports "were not necessarily just by steel mills but could have been also purchased by traders", said Helen Lau at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.

Crude oil demand also increased, lifting to 37.04 million tonnes from 31.03 million tonnes a month earlier.

In local currency terms, exports rose by 10.3% year-year, well above the 2% increase expected by economists.

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