China's October exports fell 7.3 percent on-year on a dollar-denominated basis, improving from September's 10 percent on-year plunge, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing official data.
Imports meanwhile declined 1.4 percent, following the previous month's 1.9 percent drop. That brought the October trade surplus to $49.06 billion, versus September's $41.99 billion.
Reuters had predicted a 6 percent tumble for exports, a 1 percent slide for imports and a $51.70 billion trade surplus.
Asian equity markets were little changed following the data. Shanghai and Hong Kong stocks were modestly higher, while the Australian dollar, which closely tracks Chinese data given strong economic links between Australia and China, edged down 0.4 percent against the greenback.
A weakening yuan likely helped explain the monthly improvement in October exports. Reuters data showed the dollar has risen more than 1.6 percent against the yuan over the past 30 days and foreign exchange strategists expect more depreciation ahead in anticipation of a stronger greenback, setting the stage for a brighter fourth-quarter trade performance.
"Beijing may be using a weaker currency to help prop up its faltering economy...Results of the U.S. presidential election would not alter much of the yuan depreciation trend," analysts at DBS said in a Tuesday report.
But the country's Commerce Ministry holds a downcast outlook. In a statement on its website last week, officials warned that foreign trade would face downward pressure in the fourth quarter and potentially into 2017.
While Tuesday's numbers still underscored the fragile nature of global demand for Chinese products, strategists still believed the world's number-two economy was improving.
"If we look at the series of numbers coming out from China over the past 5-6 months, the trend is getting better," Ayaz Ebrahim, head of Asia Pacific asset allocation, EM and APAC equities team, at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, told CNBC's "Street Signs."
Indeed, manufacturing data released last week showed expansion among large factories.
"China's numbers are generally showing a stabilizing trend, which will give a confidence boost to investors in the Asian region," Ebrahim added.
That may be one reason why the People's Bank of China (PBOC) is expected to stay clear of any monetary easing for the rest of the year.
"We forecast no change to the main PBOC policy interest rates through 2017," Tim Condon, head of Asia research at ING, said in a note on Tuesday.
Tuesday's report was one of many China data points due over the next two weeks.
On Monday, central bank data showed foreign reserves decreased for the fourth straight month in October, falling by $45.7 billion to $3.12 trillion—the biggest monthly decline since January and the lowest level since 2011.
Consumer price and producer price inflation are due out Wednesday. Meanwhile, industrial output, investment and retail sales data will be released next Monday.