ALSO READChina November exports growth at eight-month high, imports up on commodities demand China Oct exports growth slow as economy cools, imports still robust China Oct exports, imports growth slow as economy cools China Aug imports beat forecasts but exports shows signs of softening China September imports blow past expectations, exports also quicken
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's exports and imports growth slowed in December after unexpectedly surging in the previous month, adding to signs of ebbing economic growth as the government extends a crackdown on financial risks and factory pollution.
December exports rose 10.9 percent from a year earlier, beating analysts' forecast of a 9.1 percent increase, but cooling from a robust 12.3 percent gain in November, official data showed on Friday.
Imports grew an even slower pace of 4.5 percent year-on-year in December, the General Administration of Customs said, which was the weakest since they rose 3.1 percent in December 2016. Imports missed analysts' forecast of 13.0 percent growth and were a sharp decrease from the 17.7 percent rise in the previous month.
That left the country with a trade surplus of $54 billion for the month, the highest since January 2016.
Economists had expected China's trade surplus to have narrowed to $37 billion in December from November's $40.21 billion.
But weaker growth in December reinforced evidence of slowing momentum in the world's second-biggest economy, as the government's intensified war on pollution and a crackdown on debt risks weigh on activity.
"Although the trade data are often volatile, this latest decline (in import volumes)...is a sign that domestic demand may have weakened at the end of last year," Capital Economics Senior China Economist Julian Evans-Pritchard wrote in a note.
The trade data also showed China's goods surplus with the U. S., a sore spot in relations between the two nations, hit a record high last year.
China's 2017 surplus with the United States was $275.81 billion, topping the previous record in 2015 of $260.8 billion.
China's December trade surplus with the U. S. was $25.55 billion, compared to $27.87 billion in November.
China's excess production capacity has emerged as a major trade irritant for the world's leading economic powers, prompting them to consider new steps to protect domestic industries and jobs from a flood of Chinese imports.
(Reporting by Yawen Chen and Elias Glenn; additional reporting by Lusha Zhang; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)