BEIJING:- China’s industrial output expanded at its slowest pace in three months in November, official data showed Friday, with other key indicators also pointing to weakness in the world’s second-largest economy.
Industrial production, which measures output at factories, workshops and mines, rose 7.2 percent year-on-year last month, the weakest since August’s 6.9 percent, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.
Retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, increased 11.7 percent in the same month, the NBS said, while fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 15.8 percent on-year in the first 11 months — the lowest since growth of 13.7 percent for the full year of 2001.
The industrial output figure missed market expectations of 7.5 percent but retail sales came in just ahead of the median forecast of 11.6 percent in a Wall Street Journal poll of 16 economists, while fixed-asset investment matched predictions.
The figures are the latest signs showing the Chinese economy, a key driver of global growth, is under downward pressures, and come with Beijing expected to lower next year’s target for expansion.
China’s economy grew 7.3 percent in the third quarter, worse than the 7.5 percent in the previous three months and the slowest since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.
The data follow other figures suggesting a softening in Chinese growth. On Monday, official figures showed that November export growth slowed sharply while imports fell unexpectedly, resulting in a record monthly trade surplus.
The NBS said on Wednesday that China’s consumer price index (CPI), a key gauge of inflation, rose 1.4 percent, a five-year low. It added that the producer price index (PPI), a measure of costs for goods at the factory gate and a leading indicator of the trend for CPI, fell 2.7 percent year-on-year, the worst reading in 17 months.
The country has also been hit by disappointing manufacturing activity, tumbling property prices and nagging concerns over corporate and local government debt.
China’s top leaders this week held a key annual meeting to craft economic policies for 2015 including growth and inflation targets, although the official announcement of the goals is reserved for the national parliament opening in March.
Analysts expecting Beijing to lower its target for growth in 2015 to 7.0 percent, from around 7.5 percent for this year.