As global prices of raw materials fall, China buys more but pays less on crude oil, soybeans

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BEIJING — Lower commodity prices dragged down China's October trade figures, but the volume of imported oil and other raw materials rose as the world's second largest economy was stocking up on bargains, showed customs data released on Sunday.

Imports fell by 16 percent from a year ago, while exports shrank by 3.6 percent.

Chinese purchases of foreign goods improved from September's 20.4 percent decline. Purchases of raw materials such as crude oil and soybeans went up in quantities, but China paid far less for the goods than a year ago because of lower prices. Yet, data also showed China cut back on purchases of coal, steel, copper and aluminum, in a sign of sluggish economy.

Sales of Chinese goods to foreign markets fell 3.6 percent, a slight improvement from the previous month's 3.7 percent contraction.

Overall, China's foreign trade dropped 9 percent, marking the eighth consecutive monthly decline.

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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