China’s imports slump for January

China’s trade performance slumped in January, with exports falling 3.3 percent from year-ago levels while imports tumbled 19.9 percent, far worse than analysts had expected and highlighting deepening weakness in the Chinese economy.

Largely as a result of the sharply lower imports – particularly of coal, oil and commodities – China posted a record monthly trade surplus of $60 billion. The slower trade performance will increase concerns that an economic slowdown in China – originally considered a desirable adjustment away from an investment-intensive export model toward one based on domestic consumption – is at risk of derailing.

The government is expected to lower its GDP target to around 7 percent this year, after posting 7.4 percent in 2014 – the slowest pace in 24 years.

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