China's exports and imports unexpectedly accelerated last month in an encouraging sign for the world's second-biggest economy, though analysts expect growth to continue cooling amid a government crackdown on financial risks and polluting factories.
The trade surplus, a source of tension with major trade partners, came in at $40.2 billion, down from $43.1 billion a year earlier but more than the median projection of $35 billion.
According to China's General Administration of Customs, imports grew by 17.7% in USA dollar terms, above the 17.2% increase of October and forecasts for a smaller gain of 11.3%.
Exports were up 12.3% from a year ago to $217.4 billion, according to data published by the General Administration of Customs.
In yuan terms, the surplus fell to 263.6 billion yuan, down from 285.4 billion yuan in October.
Reflecting the impact of currency movements over the year, imports grew by 15.6% in local currency terms, above the 12.5% level expected.
Chinese copper smelters such as Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group cut back production last month to comply with environmental protection measures.
It was the fastest annual increase since March 2017.
Crude oil demand also increased, lifting to 37.04 million tonnes from 31.03 million tonnes a month earlier.
Iron ore imports "were not necessarily just by steel mills but could have been also purchased by traders", said Helen Lau at Argonaut Securities in Hong Kong.
The latest figures beat most economists' forecasts and add to evidence that strengthening global and domestic demand is helping shore up China's economic growth.