BEIJING – Chinese industrial output growth has slowed down to 5.3 percent in the first two months of 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to data released on Thursday.
The decline in the growth rate of value added industrial production, or the difference between total production and the costs of raw material and labor, is 1.9 percentage points lower than recorded in January and February of 2018.
But a statement by the National Bureau of Statistics only reflected the decrease in comparison with December last year when industrial production grew 5.7 percent inter-annually.
The bureau justified its decision to publish data for the first two months of the year together in order to avoid possible mismatches caused by the Lunar New Year festivities, the most important holiday in China.
However, according to NBS, investment has picked up with the government fast-tracking infrastructure development.
The bureau said that China’s investment in real estate promotion increased 11.6 percent annually in the first two months of this year – a growth faster than recorded in the same period of 2018, when it was 9.5 percent.
Also, investment in fixed assets increased 6.1 percent in January and February. It is 0.2 percentage points more than recorded in the same period last year.
Retail sales have grown at 8.2 percent, representing a slowdown of 1.5 percentage points compared to the growth recorded in the first two months of 2018.
Despite this, NBS argued that during these two months, the Chinese economy performed within the reasonable range under a generally stable and growing pace, revealing a gradual positive trend.
NBS said the Chinese economy is generally progressing well with intensified efforts to promote high-quality development and implement policies to maintain stability in areas such as employment, the financial sector, foreign trade and investment.
But Capital Economics, a research consultancy, said the figures published Thursday were below their forecasts and showed weakness.
However, what stood out as positive news was a greater investment in real estate, which compensates for the slowdown in investment in manufacturing and infrastructure, it said.
Capital Economics analyst Julian Evans-Pritchard explained that the data should partially alleviate concerns about a strong slowdown earlier this year and insisted that Beijing’s new fiscal easing was yet to have its desired effect.
He said economic growth would remain under pressure until at least half of 2019.