Beijing, March 14 (IANS) Retail trade in China began 2017 with a cumulative increase of 9.5 per cent between January and February — as compared to the same period in 2016 — which is below economists’ expectations of 10.5 percent and also its slowest growth in 11 years since February 2006, official date revealed on Tuesday.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics data, with a slowdown in trade, investment in fixed assets rose to 8.9 per cent year-on-year making it its largest rise since June with real estate reaching its peak in two years to stand at 8.9 per cent and industrial production accelerating to 6.3 per cent year-on-year — three-tenths more than in December, Efe news reported.

The 9.5 per cent increase in China’s retail sales was seven-tenths below the rise recorded in the same period in 2016 and almost point and a half below that of December.

Analysts blame this slight slowdown on the previous year’s trend, as well as a decline in car sales — affected by the partial withdrawal of the tax incentive they enjoyed until the end of the year — fell by 1 per cent from 2016.

Industrial production or industrial value-added, too, experienced a slight rise of 6.3 per cent, as compared to 5.4 per cent in the same period in 2016.

This indicator measures the activity of large companies with an annual turnover of at least 20 million yuan (about $2 million).

The production of steel and other metals, including cement, improved early this year, while glass, mobile phones and industrial robots saw a slowdown.

Investment in fixed assets started the year with a faster growth rate, as compared to the 8.1 per cent in January and February 2016, and 7.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

China, during its annual plenary session of the National People’s Congress held on March 5 in Beijing, has set its growth target at 6.5 percent for 2017 as compared to 6.7 percent attained in 2016.

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