China released improved trade data that missed expectations on Thursday, figures that suggest external demand remains weak and domestic recovery fragile, analysts say.
The country's exports rose 7.2 percent from the year ago period, lower than the 10.6 percent rise predicted by a Reuters poll and after gaining 7 percent in May.
Imports climbed an annual 5.5 percent, versus Reuters' forecast for a 5.8 percent rise but reversing a 1.6 percent contraction in May.
That brings trade balance to a surplus of $31.6 billion, compared with $35.92 billion logged in May.
"June export growth was somewhat disappointing given that most had expected a weak base for comparison to push it into double digit territory. That said, it remains stronger than import growth, which continues to be affected by the slowdown in the property sector," Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist with Capital Economics, said it a note.
The Australia dollar eased following the news, while most Asian stocks gave up earlier gains while Japan's Nikkei extended losses.
China's exports gained traction in recent months, helped by an improving U.S. economy and as the government took measures to aid exporters, including providing more tax breaks, credit insurance and currency hedging options.
But imports have remained weak on sluggish demand.
"We think the downside surprise in June export growth suggests a softer-than-expected pickup in China's external demand, while the uptick in import growth points to a modest recovery in domestic demand," said Jian Chang, analyst with Barclays.