Chinese exports grew faster than expected in October, data showed on Friday, adding to signs the economy is picking up but analysts cautioned that global headwinds could still block any further improvement.

The General Administration of Customs said overseas shipments expanded 5.6 percent year-on-year to $185.4 billion last month, reversing a 0.3-percent fall in September. It is also ahead of a median forecast of 1.5 percent in a poll of economists by the Wall Street Journal.

Imports increased 7.6 percent to $154.3 billion, also beating the estimates of a 7.4-percent rise.

And the trade surplus widened to $31.1 billion from September's $15.2 billion but down 3.3 percent from October 2012.

The figures are the latest to suggest the world's number two economy is emerging from a painful slowdown witnessed at the start of the year fuelled by drooping global demand.

Last month Beijing said economic growth picked up to 7.8 percent in the June-September period, snapping two quarters of slowing expansion. And this month official figures showed manufacturing activity at the country's factories had hit an 18-month high last month.

However, analysts remained wary, warning of future problems, including continued sluggish overseas demand.

"(The) outlook of the trade sector remains tepid as suggested by extremely weak orders in the recent Canton Fair," said economists with ANZ bank in a research note, referring to a major trade fair in the southern city of Guangzhou that closed on Monday.

Export contracts signed at the event, also called China Import and Export Fair, hit their lowest in four years, according to the organisers' website.

The ANZ economists also pointed to likely mounting "appreciation pressure" on the Chinese currency "in the foreseeable future" given the surge in the trade surplus.

In the first 10 months of the year, China's total trade reached $3.4 trillion, up 7.6 percent year-on-year, the statement said.

The rise in total trade for the first 10 months of this year was slightly below the government's annual growth target of eight percent.

Trade with the United States and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations led the rise in the January-October period, increasing 6.9 percent and 10.9 percent year-on-year, respectively, the statement said.

Trade with the European Union edged up just 0.5 percent, while that with Japan dropped seven percent.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story --