China's exports rose by 1.2 per cent in July over the same period a year ago, the first monthly increase in nine months, according to an official report. Reversing a long decline, exports increased to US$12.43 billion last month, Xinhua (the New China News Agency) reported. The agency did not give the import figure for July, saying only that import growth had slowed. The new figures do not indicate an end to the difficulties facing the export sector, which has shown negative growth since November. Schroders Securities economist Tao Dong said: 'It's encouraging, but it's too early to say that China's exports have reversed the trend. 'First, it is because the percentage growth is small. 'Second, it has a lot to do with the low statistical base of last year.' Mr Tao did not expect China's export growth to recover significantly in coming months, given improving domestic demand and the stronger yuan. Although import growth had moderated, he said it was likely to pick up, especially in the last quarter, because of an increase in capital goods imports stimulated by Beijing's easing of credit. Xinhua said China posted a trade surplus of $2 billion in the first seven months, thanks to a slower decline in exports and slower growth in imports. Exports dropped 6.8 per cent between January and July, to $76.48 billion, while imports jumped 9.9 per cent to $74.47 billion during the period. China's total trade edged up 0.7 per cent to $150.95 billion. In the first half, the country registered a trade surplus of $880 million, following a deficit of $490 million in the first five months.