Apr 12, 11:43 PM EDT

China's exports accelerate in March, import growth moderates

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BEIJING (AP) -- China's export growth accelerated in March while import growth moderated to still-robust double-digit levels in possible positive signs for Chinese economic growth and global demand.

Customs data on Thursday showed exports rose 16.4 percent from a year earlier to $180.6 billion, up from 4 percent growth in the first two months of the year. Imports rose 20.3 percent to $156.6 billion, down from the January-February rate of 26.4 percent.

The unexpectedly strong exports are a positive sign for Chinese leaders who are trying to avert job losses in trade-related industries while they try to nurture consumer-driven economic growth.

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