Chinese exports rose for the second consecutive month in April, official data showed today, boosted by improving global demand, but at a slower pace than in the previous month. 

Exports were up 8% year-on-year to $180 billion, while imports were up 11.9% at $142 billion.

That pushed the trade surplus to $38 billion from $23.9 billion in March, according to customs figures.

Exports to the huge US market increased by 11.7% in April compared to 19.7% a month earlier, while shipments to the European Union rose 4%. 

Today's figures follow official and private surveys showing that factory activity expanded at a slower than expected pace in April. 

China's export data had improved in March as fears of a trade war with the US eased after US President Donald Trump's stance on Beijing softened after a cordial summit with President Xi Jinping. 

Trump reversed course on an election campaign promise to label Beijing a currency manipulator and slap punitive tariffs on Chinese imports. 

"Today's trade data suggest that growth momentum weakened slightly in April," according to an analysis by Nomura investment bank.

The bank said it expects the economy to grow 6.8% year-on-year in the second quarter, compared to 6.9% in the first three months of 2017. 

While exports increased at a slower rate than March, when they soared by 16.4%, they marked a second consecutive month of growth after a 1.3% fall in February. 

Analysts said the latest data suggests a softening momentum in China's export growth in the second quarter.

But they added that the pipeline of electronic products in the global supply chain is still likely to keep China's export outlook stable during 2017.