BEIJING (AP) — China's trade shrank in December but the decline was smaller than November's in a positive sign for lackluster economic growth.
Exports declined 1.4 percent from a year earlier to $224.1 billion, an improvement over the previous month's 6.8 percent contraction, customs data showed Wednesday. Imports were down 7.6 percent at $164 billion, a smaller loss than November's 8.7 percent fall.
China's trade data reflect weak global demand and a decline in domestic economic growth, but economists say retail spending and manufacturing might be improving.
Economic growth fell to a six-year low of 6.9 percent in the quarter ending in September. Full year growth is expected to come in at or just below 7 percent.
In December, the country's global trade surplus widened by 21 percent to $60.1 billion.
For the full year, exports were off 2.8 percent at $2.3 trillion and imports were down 14.1 percent at $1.7 trillion. The global trade surplus was $594 billion.
The country's trade surplus in December with the European Union, its biggest trading partner, swelled 36.8 percent to $15.6 billion. The surplus with the United States contracted 6 percent to $19.4 billion.
General Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese): www.customs.gov.cn