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China’s exports and imports fall again in August as demand slumps

China’s exports fell 8.8% in August year on year, while imports contracted 7.3%, customs data showed on Thursday, increasing pressure on the country’s vast manufacturing sector as demand sags in the country and abroad.

A Reuters poll of economists predicted a 9.2% drop in exports and a 9.0% drop in imports.

The world’s second-largest economy is at risk of missing Beijing’s roughly 5% annual growth target as authorities grapple with a deepening housing slump, weak consumer spending and a plummeting credit growth, leading analysts to lower their growth forecasts for the year.

Beijing has announced a series of measures in recent months to support growth, with the central bank and top financial regulator relaxing some borrowing rules last week to help home buyers.

But analysts warn that these measures could have little impact, given the slowing labor market recovery and uncertain expectations for property income.

Chinese factory activity shrank for a fifth consecutive month in August, a Purchasing Managers’ Index showed last week, weighed down by a lack of new export orders and imported parts.

However, factory owners said producer prices improved for the first time in seven months, a sign of improving domestic demand.

South Korean shipments to China, a leading indicator of the latter’s imports, fell by only a fifth last month, after falling 27.5% a month earlier.

China recorded a trade surplus of $68.36 billion in August, compared to a forecast of $73.80 billion and a figure of $80.6 billion in July.