THE rates of growth of China’s industrial output, retail sales and fixed-asset investment all slowed in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said, dimming hopes raised by the March data and adding to signs of a still murky economic outlook.
Factory output rose 6 percent year-on-year in April, down from 6.8 percent in March and below market expectations of about 6.5 percent according to a Reuters poll.
Industrial production accounted for 40.5 percent of China’s GDP in 2015, making it one of the leading indicators of economic growth.
The bureau attributed the slower growth to weak foreign demand, declining production of high energy-consumption industries, and a correction from seasonal factors in March.
But growth of high-tech manufacturing output and consumer-oriented products accelerated, said NBS researcher Jiang Yuan.
Retail sales grew 10.1 percent year on year in April, slowing from 10.5 percent in March. Similarly, fixed-asset investment growth eased to 10.5 percent in the January-April period, missing market estimates of 10.9 percent and down from the first quarter’s 10.7 percent.
The NBS attributed the slower retail sales to weakness in the new car market, and the easier investment in manufacturing and infrastructure under pressure of overcapacity and weak demand.
The data were in line with an array of economic indicators pointing to ongoing but fragile growth momentum.
Consumer inflation remained at 2.3 percent for the third consecutive month in April, but factory prices fell for the 50th consecutive month.
Exports in yuan-denominated terms rose 4.1 percent year on year, slower than the 18 percent increase in March, while the Purchasing Managers’ Index fell 0.1 points month on month to 50.1.
Monthly new yuan loans also dropped almost 60 percent month on month to 555.6 billion yuan (US$85.2 billion) in April.
“The April data mark a return to the normal,” said Zhou Hao, an economist with Commerzbank.
“The economic situation is still under control of policy-makers, and the negative reading is just a correction to the over-positive sentiment in March,” he said.
Speculation about whether the government will rein in its stimulus measures rose after the People’s Daily published an interview with an “authoritative source” last week, saying the slow economic growth will last for years and warning that too much reliance on debt to boost the economy could lead to a financial crisis or recession.