China's latest batch of data has undershot expectations

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Growth in Chinese industrial output, retail sales and fixed asset investment in October missed to the downside in October.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), industrial output grew by 6.2% from a year earlier, undershooting forecasts for an increase of 6.3%.

It was also a sharp deceleration on the 6.6% increase reported in the 12 months to September.

State-owned firms saw output increase 6.6% over the year, marginally ahead of listed firms at 6.1%.

“The value added of the mining sector decreased by 1.3% year-on-year,” the NBS said.

“The manufacturing sector grew by 6.7% and the production and supply of electricity, thermal power, gas and water grew by 9.2%.”

Crude steel output stood at 72.36 million tonnes, up marginally on 71.827 million tonnes in September.

Reflecting strong demand and the shuttering of outdated and illegal steel mills that weren’t captured in official data in the past, total output rose by 6.1% between January to October compared to same period in 2016.

Like industrial output, retail sales also underwhelmed, at least compared to China’s lofty expectations, increasing by 10% over the year, below the 10.4% level expected.

It was also short of the 10.3% level previously reported.

Online retail sales continued to outperform those in physical stores, lifting by 34% between January to October compared to same period a year earlier.

Rounding off the trio of data misses, urban-fixed asset investment grew by 7.3% year-on-year between January to October, below the 7.5% pace in the first nine months of the year and forecasts for a smaller deceleration to 7.4%.

Within the headline figure, public investment grew by 10.9% compared to 2016, outpacing that from the private sector which grew by a smaller 5.8%.

China’s private sector accounts for around 60% of total investment.

Contributing to the slowdown, real estate investment grew by 7.8% compared to the same period a year earlier, below the 8.1% pace in the first nine months of the year.

New construction starts and property sales by floor space both decelerated, rising by 5.6% and 8.2% respectively, down from 6.8% and 10.3% between January to September.

Helping to offset the regulator-enforced slowdown in the property market, infrastructure investment continued to hum along nicely, growing by 19.6% compared to the same period in 2016.

Despite the deceleration from September on all three headline measures, the NBS said the result pointed to “sound economic development”.

“The economy was generally stable, the structural adjustment was deepened, the shifting from the old driving forces to the new ones was accelerated, the quality and efficiency were enhanced and people’s life continued to improve,” it said.

“The national economy has maintained stable performance with improved quality and sound development momentum.”

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