China's exports and imports fell for the first time in two yearsin January and lending grew less than estimated, adding to signsgrowth is weakening in the world's second-largest economy.

Overseas shipments decreased 0.5 percent and imports declined amore-than-forecast 15.3 percent from a year earlier in a month thathad four fewer working days than January 2011 because of theChinese New Year holiday, the customs bureau said today.

The lowest January new lending in five years and the smallestmoney-supply growth in more than a decade underscore the case formore easing even as seasonal distortions make the numbers harder togauge. Commerce Minister Chen Deming said yesterday January exports“cannot make us optimistic” and the International Monetary Fundwarned this week a deterioration in Europe could cut China'sexpansion rate almost in half this year.

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