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China industrial output up 9.0% on-year in July

China's industrial production, which measures output at factories, workshops and mines in the world's second-largest economy, rose 9.0 per cent year-on-year in July, the government announced Wednesday (Aug 13).

BEIJING: China's industrial production, which measures output at factories, workshops and mines in the world's second-largest economy, rose 9.0 per cent year-on-year in July, the government announced Wednesday (Aug 13).

Retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, increased 12.2 per cent in the same month, the National Bureau of Statistics said, while fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, rose 17.0 per cent on-year in the first seven months.

The industrial output result marked a slowdown from the 9.2 per cent recorded in June but matched the median 9.0 per cent increase in a survey of 15 economists by The Wall Street Journal. Retail sales growth, meanwhile, slowed from 12.4 per cent in June.

Fixed asset investment - which is only released cumulatively - came in below the 17.3 per cent reading for the first six months of the year in June, and also below the median 17.3 per cent forecast. It was a new post-2001 low, when the increase for the whole year was 13.7 percent, NBS data showed.

China's leadership has stressed the importance of transforming the economy's structure to one whereby increased private demand such as consumer spending drives expansion rather than the traditional engine of large, though often wasteful, state-supported investments.

The July data came after China's economy grew a stronger-than-expected 7.5 per cent in the April-June quarter, accelerating from 7.4 per cent during the first three months of the year, which was the worst since a similar expansion in July-September 2012.

The improvement came after authorities in April began introducing steps to shore up the economy in the form of tax breaks for small enterprises, targeted infrastructure outlays and lending incentives in rural areas and for small companies. The measures have been dubbed "mini-stimulus" by some economists.

China in March set its annual growth target for 2014 at about 7.5 per cent, the same objective as last year. China's economy grew 7.7 per cent in 2013, matching 2012's result, which was the worst since 1999.

The government announced Friday that China's monthly trade surplus leaped to a record US$47.3 billion in July, nearly tripling year-on-year as export growth accelerated while imports recorded an unexpected decline. The surplus, which compared with one of US$17.8 billion during the same month last year, beat China's previous record of US$40.1 billion in November 2008.

And on Saturday, it said that the consumer price index - a main gauge of inflation - rose 2.3 per cent in July, the same as the previous month and well below the 3.5 per cent annual target set by the government in March. Economists say the benign price outlook leaves authorities room to further stimulate the economy if needed.

The producer price index (PPI) - a measure of costs for goods at the factory gate and a leading indicator of the trend for CPI - improved to a decline of 0.9 per cent in July.