BEIJING (AP) — China's export growth accelerated in October in another sign that the world's second-largest economy is starting to recover from a painful slowdown, while import growth stayed weak.
Exports rose 11.6 percent from a year ago, up from the previous month's 9.9 percent rate, data showed Saturday. Import growth held steady at 2.4 percent.
The improvement is a positive sign for the ruling Communist Party, which is preparing for a once-a-decade handover of power to younger leaders who might benefit from an economic uptick.
Analysts say a modest recovery appears to be under way following China's deepest downturn since the 2008 global crisis.
Data reported Friday showed auto sales, factory output and investment also improved in October.
Renewed export strength will give a boost to manufacturers that were hit hard by last year's slump in global demand. Thousands were forced out of business and the survivors slashed payrolls, raising the danger of unrest as Communist leaders tried to enforce calm ahead of the leadership transition.
The import weakness meant China's global trade surplus widened by nearly 90 percent over a year earlier to $32 billion.
Lackluster Chinese demand for imports reflects government curbs imposed on lending and investment to cool inflation and overheating.
Those controls helped to crush surging prices but hurt China's large construction industry and depressed its voracious appetite for steel beams, wiring and other materials made of imported iron ore, copper and other commodities. That is bad news for commodities exporters such as Australia and Brazil that supply China.
China's economic growth fell to a 3 1/2-year low of 7.4 percent in the quarter ending in September. Analysts say that the slowdown probably has reached its bottom and that activity should improve in the current quarter.
The government said last month it saw "steady economic growth," suggesting there was no need for further major stimulus following interest rate cuts and higher spending on public works construction and investment by state companies.
General Administration of Customs of China (in Chinese): www.customs.gov.cn