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As prices of raw materials drop, China October imports slump

BEIJING - Lower commodity prices and sluggish demands dragged down China's October trade figures, although the volume of imported oil and other raw materials rose as the world's second-largest economy stocked up on a few bargains, customs data released Sunday showed.

Imports fell by 18.8 percent from a year ago to $130.7 billion, while exports shrank by 6.9 percent to $192.4 billion. Overall, China's trade fell 8.5 percent in the first 10 months of the year.

The contractions in October show China's economic slowdown has yet to bottom out and that exports were hurt by slack global demand.

"With imports still down on a year ago in real terms, this trade data does not suggest a material pickup in domestic demand momentum in October," Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics said in a report.

Chinese purchases of foreign goods improved from September's 20.4 percent decline. Purchases of raw materials such as crude oil and soybeans went up in quantities, but China paid far less for the goods than a year ago because of lower prices. Prices are depressed because of weaker global demand, especially from China.

Data also showed China cut back on purchases of iron ore, coal, steel, copper and aluminum, in a sign of a sluggish economy.

Sales of Chinese goods to foreign markets fell 6.9 percent, compared to the previous month's 3.7 percent contraction.

The government has cut interest rates repeatedly since last year and pumped money into the economy through spending on public works construction.

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