China’s foreign exchange reserves fell to $3.44 trillion at the end of November, the central bank announced on Monday.

But the foreign currency reserves remain by far the world’s largest © Xinhua

The reserves dropped by $87.2 billion from October, according to the People’s Bank of China.

Gold reserves decreased from $63.3 billion at the end of October to $59.5 billion at the end of November.

“The fall in November was larger than expected, which indicates that China’s use of forex reserves had exceeded expectations,” Liu Ruidong, analyst from Merrill Lynch, said on Chinese Twitter, Sina Weibo.

The fall in November came after a $11.4 billion month-on-month rise registered in October. Before that, reserves declined for five-consecutive months from May to September.

Fuelled by exports, forex reserves grew for more than a decade before beginning their decline in the third quarter of 2014. In the third quarter of 2015, forex reserves fell by $180 billion, much more than the $40 billion decrease in the second quarter, a fifth consecutive quarterly drop.

But the foreign currency reserves remain by far the world’s largest.

China is battling a property downturn, industrial overcapacity, sluggish demand and struggling exports, which dragged growth down to 7 per cent for the first half of the year.