China's trade data is better than expected

Feng Li/Getty Images

Chinese imports and exports both fell in November, but not as hard as expected.

China Customs Bureau data showed exports down 3.7%, compared to November last year, and 3.65% down on September. Imports dropped 5.6%.

The overall trade surplus was 343.1 billion yuan ($A74 billion).

While the numbers show slowing domestic demand and local economic activity, they were better than expected. Some analysts had been forecasting that imports, a key measure of domestic demand, could fall by double digits.

The weaker import numbers can be partly explained by cheaper commodity prices. It simply doesn’t cost as much now to buy raw materials.

Bloomberg reported that the data means policy makers in China may need to keep their foot on the gas even after six interest rate cuts and increased fiscal spending.

“The import slowdown is also a drag on other nations as China’s flagging industrial plants need less raw materials while robust consumer demand hasn’t picked up fast enough to offset those declines,” Bloomberg said.

Activity across China’s manufacturing sector tanked last month. China’s manufacturing PMI report for November also came in below expectations.

According the government, the index slipped to 49.6 in November, missing expectations for an unchanged reading of 49.8.

PMI reports measure changes in activity across a sector over a one-month period, with a reading below 50 indicating activity levels are contracting.

NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.