China's foreign trade returned to surplus in the first nine months of 2004, official figures showed. Exports rose 35.3% to US$416.24 billion while imports increased 38.2% to US$412.31 billion, resulting in a surplus of almost US$4 billion. The first four months of the year had seen China in deficit of almost US$11 billion, but a subsequent five months of surpluses pushed the balance back into the black. Meanwhile foreign investment inflow continued to surge ahead, with FDI rising 44% year-on-year in September. According to the Ministry of Commerce actual foreign investment in the first nine months totaled US$48.692 billion, a rise of 21.01%, while contracted direct investment, an indicator of future trends, increased by 35.62% to US$107.421 billion over the same period.