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BEIJING, Dec 8 (Reuters) - China's November exports rose unexpectedly by 0.1 percent from a year earlier, while imports expanded 6.7 percent on strong demand for commodities from coal to iron ore, official data showed on Thursday.
That left the country with a trade surplus of $44.61 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.
Exports in the first 11 months of the year fell 7.5 percent from the same period a year earlier, while imports dropped 6.2 percent.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected November exports to have fallen 5.0 percent from a year earlier, an improvement from a 7.3 percent contraction in October but pointing to persistently sluggish global demand.
Imports were expected to have dropped 1.3 percent, after falling 1.4 percent in October.
The trade surplus was forecast to have shrunk to $46.30 billion in November, versus October's $49.06 billion.
China, the world's largest trading nation, could be heavily exposed to protectionist measures next year if U.S. President-elect Donald Trump follows through on campaign pledges to brand it a currency manipulator and impose heavy tariffs on imports of Chinese goods.
Reporting by Yawen Chen and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Kim Coghill