China's exports in February tumbled 18.1 percent from a year earlier, official data showed, raising questions about the health of the world's second-largest economy despite officials blaming Lunar New Year holidays for the unexpected slide.
Imports rose 10.1 percent in February from a year earlier, producing a trade deficit of $23 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said on Saturday.
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That compared with market expectations in a Reuters poll of a rise of 6.8 percent in exports, an 8 percent rise in imports and a trade surplus of $14.5 billion.
Analysts cautioned against reading too much into single monthly figures for January or February, given possible distortions caused by the Lunar New Year holiday, which began on Jan. 31 and covered early February. Many plants and offices shut for extended periods during the festival.