China April retail sales growth slowest in 9 yrs

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BEIJING: Retail sales growth in China fell to 10.0 percent in April, authorities in the world’s second-largest economy said on Wednesday, missing expectations and the lowest for nine years.

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Industrial output, which measures production at factories, workshops and mines, rose 5.9 percent in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said—also below expectations.

Fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 12.0 percent in the first four months of the year, the lowest since 2000.

The median forecasts in polls of economists by Bloomberg News were for retail sales to rise 10.4 percent, industrial output to go up 6.0 percent, and fixed-asset investment to climb 13.5 percent.

The figure for retail sales growth, a key indicator of consumer spending, was the lowest since 9.4 percent in February 2006.

The statistics are the latest poor data to emerge in China, a key driver of global expansion but whose gross domestic product grew by 7.4 percent in 2014, the lowest rate in nearly 25 years.

NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun commented in a statement posted Tuesday that the Chinese economy was “operating in a reasonable range.”

“Positive elements that will help the economy grow steadily continued to emerge and accumulate,” he said, pointing to factors such as accelerating private sector investment and booming online retail sales.

But he cautioned that the “complicated and severe foreign and domestic environment for economic development” was “unchanged” as was reflected by the country’s slowing exports and imports and falling factory gate prices.

The government will strengthen its economic fine-tuning to ensure reasonable growth rate, he added.

Chinese stock markets have soared in recent months on expectations that authorities will take more measures to stimulate the economy.

The central People’s Bank of China on Sunday announced its third interest rate cut since November and this year has twice reduced the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve, as well as using other measures to inject liquidity into the market.

Economists are predicting more easing to come later this year.

Growth slowed further to 7.0 percent in the January-March period, the worst quarterly result in six years and down from 7.3 percent in the final three months of 2014.

The continued falls in April’s exports and imports added to concerns over the weakening momentum in China, while persisting mild consumer inflation last month left room for further policy loosening.

AFP

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