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China export growth edges higher, small sign of hope amid uncertain recovery in No. 2 economy

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HONG KONG — China's export growth edged higher in June in a small sign of improvement for the world's second biggest economy as it undergoes an uneven recovery.

Exports rose 7.2 percent in dollar terms from a year earlier, up slightly from May's 7 percent growth, the General Administration of Customs said Thursday. Imports grew 5.5 percent last month after shrinking 1.6 percent in May.

Growth in exports was slower than analysts were expecting, given that exports shrank in June last year, which should have given a bigger boost to this month's figure by comparison.

Nevertheless, economists say they expect growth to continue rising moderately thanks to demand from developed nations such as the United States for toys, electronics, clothing and other goods made by China's huge manufacturing industry. They don't expect growth to speed up significantly.

"We expect reasonable export growth in the coming months, but we are not sure how much more room for faster growth there is in the short term," said Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at RBS.

Imports, meanwhile, reflect slowing Chinese growth, which eased to 7.4 percent in the first quarter of the year. Demand for imports of steel, cement, copper and other raw materials has waned because of government curbs on construction. While China's authorities have unleashed mini-stimulus measures to boost growth, analysts expect the economy to slow as the impact fades.

Exports for June totaled $186.8 billion while imports were $155.2 billion, resulting in a $31.6 billion trade surplus.

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