Chinese Slowdown Deepens: Industrial Output at 17-Year Low
17 March, 2019, 02:31
China's fixed-asset investment grew 6.1 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2019, 0.2 percentage points higher than that recorded in 2018, NBS data showed.
China combines January and February activity data in an attempt to smooth distortions created by the long Lunar New Year holidays early each year, but some analysts say a clearer picture of the economy's health may not emerge until first-quarter data is released in April.
Average daily steel output over the two months reached 2.54 million tonnes, up from 2.46 million tonnes in December and 2.32 million tonnes in the same months past year, according to Reuters calculations based on official data.
Industrial output rose 5.3 percent in January-February, less than expected and the slowest pace since early 2002.
"Looking into the future we expect more cities will take measures to stabilise their own markets, but we don't expect Beijing to lift the curbs across the board", said Daniel Yao, head of research at JLL China, a property services and investment management company. But several analysts including Nomura estimated growth momentum may have eased despite Beijing's push.
China's fixed asset investment (or FAI) rose by 6.1%, which was in line with economists' expectations.
Retail sales increased by 8.2 percent year-on-year in the same period, unchanged from December, while industrial output went up 5.3 percent. But, the growth will be small due to depleting reserves at main producing fields and as new discoveries tend to be marginal. China's exports to all of its major markets fell across the board last month. Infrastructure spending ticked up 4.3 percent on-year in January-February, from 3.8 percent last year.
"The growth trend of the modern service industry is relatively good", Mao said, adding that information transmission, software and information technology industries maintained a high growth rate of 26.5 percent. But sources have told Reuters that a benchmark interest rate cut is considered a last resort if other measures fail to stem the broader economic decline.
The NBS data also showed that the country's natural gas output increased by 9.2 percent from a year earlier to 28.7 billion cubic meters in the first two months of 2019 because the growth accelerated after output expanded 7.5 percent for the whole of 2018.
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