China's retail sales up 8.2 pct in Jan.-Feb

Mae Love
March 17, 2019

Industrial output rose 5.3 percent in January-February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, less than expected and the slowest pace since early 2002.

In January-February, China produced some 73.89 million mt of coke, up 7.6% from the same periodlast year. Output growth at China's factories and workshops for the first two months slowed to 5.3 percent on-year, from 5.7 percent in December, a multi-year low and short of forecasts.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected it to rise 6.0 percent, edging up marginally from 5.9 percent in 2018. Most analysts believe activity may not convincingly stabilise until the middle of the year.

In particular, Capital Economics and others noted that infrastructure investment has not improved as much as hoped after the government began fast-tracking road and rail projects past year, raising the risk of a milder-than-expected bounce in construction when work resumes in warmer weather.

Higher spending this year on exploration and production at China's three national oil companies is expected to lift domestic oil production, which has slipped the last three years.

Total steel output for the two months reached 149.58 million tonnes, up 9.2 percent from a year earlier, the official data showed.

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That processing rate works out at about 12.68 million barrels per day (bpd), according to Reuters calculations based on the NBS data, exceeding the previous daily high hit in September at 12.49 million bpd.

Data on Thursday showed China's property investment quickened in the January-February period driven by strong demand in smaller cities.

Falling property sales in Jan-Feb due to Lunar New Year factors.

"February's decrease in CPI growth was mainly due to the disturbance from the Spring Festival holiday, and we expect the figure to recover to about 1.8 percent in March", said Wang Qing, a researcher at Beijing-based Golden Credit Rating International. China's exports to all of its major markets fell across the board last month.

But sales of appliances and furniture softened considerably early in the year, possibly linked to a 3.6 percent drop in home sales. Most of the 70 cities surveyed by the NBS still reported monthly price increases for new homes, though the number was down to 57 from 58 in January. Infrastructure spending ticked up 4.3% in January and February, from 3.8% the same time past year.

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