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Business

China's overall trade tumbles, but less than expected

Chinese trade figures have reflected the consequences of an economic slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. Yet the results exceeded analysts' expectations, spurring a brief rally on Asian stock markets.

Chinese exports declined by 1.4 percent in December in dollar terms year-on-year, customs officials reported Wednesday, but measured in China's yuan currency, they rose by 2.3 percent.

Economists had penciled in a worse performance, with the positive results lifting Asian markets temporarily.

Imports dipped by 7.6 percent in December year-on-year, though, marking an improvement on the faster pace of decline in November.

The combination produced a $60.09 billion (55 billion-euro) trade surplus for December, providing the People's Bank of China with another large financial cushion.

"The trade data support our view that despite turmoil in Chinese financial markets there has not been a major deterioration in its economy in recent months," Capital Economics analyst Daniel Martin said in a statement.

Slump in shipments to Africa

The fresh figures came amid a national campaign to transform China's growth model away from reliance on exports and fixed-asset investment towards a consumer-driven economy based on strong domestic consumption.

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In the third quarter of 2015, the Asian giant had booked 6.9 percent growth, the lowest GDP increase in six years and a consequence of the planned transition.

The General Administration of Customs said China exports for the whole of 2015 had fallen by 1.8 percent, with imports declining by 13.2 percent on shrinking commodity prices and sluggish demand.

The fresh figures also revealed that China's imports from Africa tumbled by a staggering 38 percent throughout 2015, while exports to the continent rose by 4 percent last year.

hg/cjc (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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