China's industrial output growth slows in April, retail sales miss forecasts

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s factory output growth slowed in April from the jump seen in the previous month while retail sales missed analyst expectations, indicating more pressure on the recovery in consumption.

FILE PHOTO: A worker welds a bicycle steel rim at a factory manufacturing sports equipment in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China September 2, 2019. China Daily via REUTERS/File Photo

Industrial production grew 9.8% in April from a year ago, slower than the 14.1% surge in March, National Bureau of Statistics data showed on Monday, but matching a consensus forecast by analysts from a Reuters poll.

China’s economy showed steady improvement in April but new problems are emerging, the NBS said in a statement alongside the data.

Retail sales rose 17.7% year-on-year in April, much weaker than a 24.9% uptick expected by analysts and down from the jump of 34.2% seen in March.

Fixed asset investment increased 19.9% in the first four months from the same period a year earlier, versus a forecast 19.0% rise, slowing from January-March’s 25.6% increase.

Private-sector fixed-asset investment, which makes up around 60% of total investment, rose 21.0% in January-April, compared with a 26.0% jump for the first three months.

A top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party said last month the country will encourage manufacturing and private investment to recover as quickly as possible.

The Politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping also warned China’s economic recovery remained uneven and that its foundation was not yet solid.

Exports unexpectedly accelerated in April and import growth hit a decade high, thanks to strong demand for Chinese goods amid a brisk U.S. economic recovery and stalled factory production in other countries.

However, April also saw factory activity slow as supply bottlenecks and rising costs weighed on production.

China’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by a record 18.3% in the first quarter and many economists expect growth will exceed 8% this year.

Some warn that continuing global supply chain disruptions and higher comparison bases will sap momentum in coming quarters.

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