Growth in Chinese exports and imports slowed in November, further evidence of the faltering demand abroad and at home that is pushing Beijing towards a more explicit pro-growth policy.
Customs data on Saturday showed exports expanded 13.8% year on year in November, the lowest in nine months , but it was the most sluggish performance since November 2009 when the traditionally volatile month of February is stripped out.
Imports increased 22.1% in the year to November, weaker than a rise of 28.7 %in October, but stronger than September's 20.9%.
Economists in the benchmark Reuters poll forecast annual export growth of 11% in November and a 19% rise in import, with a trade surplus of $14.3 billion.
The surplus turned out to be $14.5 billion, narrowing from October's $17.0 billion and the same level as in September.
The trade data reinforced a slowing trend in the world's No. 2 economy, after key indicators on Friday showed a serious risk of a sharp industrial slowdown -- accompanied by an easing of inflatioanry pressure -- that is prompting Beijing to provide more support for growth and jobs.
The Communist Party's top leaders said in a statement hours after the data deluge on Friday that they would ensure stable and reasonably fast economic growth in 2012, fine-tuning policy in tandum with changes in the global economy.
The central bank surprised the market on November 30 with an earlier-than-expected cut in banks' required reserves, the first such move in three years, signalling a policy shift, although in words, China has so far kept its official line of sticking with a "prudent" monetary policy.