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China July exports rise 7.2 pct, imports up 11 pct, both well below forecast

BEIJING, Aug 8 (Reuters) - China's July exports rose 7.2 percent from a year earlier, while imports grew 11.0 percent, both well below analysts' forecasts, official data showed on Tuesday.

That left the country with a trade surplus of $46.74 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected July shipments from the world's largest exporter to have risen 10.9 percent, easing slightly from 11.3 percent growth in June.

Imports had been expected to have climbed 16.6 percent, after rising 17.2 percent in June.

Analysts were expecting China's trade surplus to have widened to $46.08 billion in July from June's $42.77 billion.

After several lean years of declining shipments, China's trade performance has rebounded this year thanks to strong demand at home and abroad.

While exports are contributing to China's economic growth once again, global investors have been more focused on its strong appetite for industrial commodities such as iron ore and coal which is boosting resources prices worldwide. (Reporting by Stella Qiu and Elias Glenn; Editing by Kim Coghill)