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China’s October imports, exports fall

China’s October exports fell 7.3 per cent from a year earlier while imports shrank 1.4 per cent. Weak domestic and global demand are adding to doubts that a pick-up in economic activity in the world's largest trading nation can be sustained. China's imports of iron ore, crude oil, coal and copper all fell in October, after its robust demand drove global prices of many major commodities higher this year.

Imports fell for the second month in a row in October after rising for the first time in nearly two years in August. China will face relatively large downward pressure on foreign trade in the fourth quarter, with uncertainties continuing into 2017. Weak exports knocked 7.8 per cent off the country's GDP growth in the first three quarters of this year.

A property boom which generated a significant share of the growth may be peaking, dampening demand for building materials from cement to steel. Steel mills have been cutting output and even starting maintenance work earlier than usual as soaring costs for raw materials such as iron ore and coal squeeze profits.

But although both exports and imports have fallen short of expectations, they have improved on a year-on-year basis. The rate of decline in October moderated from September.