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China's September imports plunge 20.4 percent in new sign of economic weakness


BEIJING — China's September imports fell by an unexpectedly wide margin of 20.4 percent from a year ago in a new sign of weakness in the world's second-largest economy, while exports also contracted.

Customs data Tuesday showed Chinese purchases of foreign goods worsened from August's 5.5 percent decline, evidence of anemic demand despite repeated stimulus efforts aimed at reversing a decline in economic growth. Sales of Chinese goods to foreign markets fell 3.7 percent, an improvement from the previous month's 13.8 percent contraction.

Weakness in trade has fueled doubts that Beijing can hit its economic growth target this year of about 7 percent.

The government has cut interest rates repeatedly since last year and pumped money into the economy through spending on public works construction.

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