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China industrial output growth slows in October: government

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Beijing , Nov 13 (AFP) Growth in China’s industrial output and other key indicators slowed in October, government data showed today, signalling further weakness in the world’s second-largest economy.

Industrial production, which measures output at factories, workshops and mines, expanded 7.7 percent year-on-year last month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), down from 8.0 percent in September and below forecasts of 8.0 percent.

Retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, increased 11.5 percent in October, the NBS said, slowing from September’s 11.6 percent gain.

And fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 15.9 percent on-year in the first 10 months, compared with the gain of 16.1 percent over the first nine months.

The data is the latest to show the Chinese economy, a key driver of global expansion, is slowing. “The figures all came in lower, suggesting the downtrend in the domestic economy continued,” Central China Securities analyst Zhang Gang told.

Nomura economists said the figures came despite further policy easing, suggesting that “headwinds from the property market correction, severe overcapacity in many upstream industries and an over-leveraged corporate sector are very strong”. They added: “The efficacy of policy easing may have lessened”.

The median forecasts in surveys of 11 economists by the Wall Street Journal had been for retail sales to rise 11.6 percent and fixed asset investment to increase 16.0 percent. The economy expanded 7.3 percent in the July-September quarter, lower than the 7.5 percent in the previous three months and the slowest since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis. On Monday the NBS said inflation was unchanged at a near five-year low of 1.6 percent in October, and analysts warned of deflationary risks.

Thursday’s results also come after mixed readings earlier this month on China’s manufacturing sector. British bank HSBC’s closely watched final purchasing managers’ index (PMI) survey for October picked up to a three-month high of 50.4. But the official PMI announced by the NBS came in at 50.8 last month, lower than the 51.1 recorded in September and the weakest in five months.

The indexes track activity in factories and workshops and are considered key indicators of the health of China’s economy. Stocks closed lower Thursday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index losing 0.36 percent, or 8.87 points, to 2,485.61.

Liu Li-Gang and Zhou Hao of ANZ Bank said industrial output may lose further steam in November as some steel plants were closed to help clean up air pollution ahead of an Asia-Pacific summit in Beijing.

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