BEIJING - China's monthly trade surplus rose 88% to reach a record 370 billion yuan ($59 billion) in January, data showed Sunday, as imports dropped sharply on lower commodity prices and sluggish domestic demand.
Exports from the world's second-largest economy also fell -- by 3.2% year-on-year -- to 1.23 trillion yuan ($197 billion), the customs administration said on its website.
Imports fell 19.7% from a year earlier to 860 billion yuan ($138 billion), the largest drop in more than five years.
The country's trade surplus, long a source of tensions with its trading partners, rose above a previous all-time monthly high of $54.5 billion posted in November.
Economists said the figures reflected continued downward pressures on China's economy, which grew at its slowest pace in 24 years last year and is expected to slow further in 2015.
But they also warned that the data may have been affected by short-term factors, such as a crackdown on commodity financing and the later date of China's Lunar New Year holiday this year.
Such intervention has continued this year, with the central bank announcing Wednesday an across-the-board cut in the percentage of funds banks must hold in reserve.
That move followed the bank's decision in November to cut benchmark interest rates for the first time in more than two years.
Premier Li Keqiang has said publicly that weaker GDP growth is no problem so long as its quality remains high and job creation remains resilient.
Creating jobs in the world's most populous country is a political priority for the ruling Communist Party, which depends largely on economic growth to bolster domestic support.Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015