China’s industrial output grew at the fastest pace in 17 months last month, adding to signs of a rebound this quarter that include a pickup in export gains.
Factory production rose 10.4 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement in Beijing yesterday, compared with a median forecast of 9.9 percent in a Bloomberg survey.
Retail sales advanced 13.4 percent, while fixed-asset investment excluding rural households increased 20.3 percent in the January-to-August period, topping estimates.
Yesterday’s data suggest Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s (李克強) measures from tax cuts to extra spending on railways have helped halt a two-quarter slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Li’s government has signaled that it will defend its 7.5 percent expansion goal while cutting overcapacity and squeezing shadow banking to limit financial risks.
“All the economic data published since July have been quite positive, showing a noticeable short-term recovery,” Zhu Haibin (朱海濱), chief China economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co in Hong Kong, said before the release of yesterday’s figures. “Demand is picking up on the ground.”
The government does not release separate industrial data for January and February, which are distorted by the Chinese New Year holiday.
Estimates for industrial-production growth from 45 analysts ranged from 9.2 percent to 10.2 percent, according to a Bloomberg News survey, following a 9.7 percent gain in July.
The median estimate for retail sales was a 13.3 percent advance after 13.2 percent in July.
Fixed-asset investment was projected by economists to rise 20.2 percent in the January-to-August period, after a 20.1 percent gain in the first seven months of the year.
China’s exports rose 7.2 percent from a year earlier, the General Administration of Customs said on Sunday.
That exceeded the 5.5 percent median estimate of analysts. At the same time, imports rose a less-than-estimated 7 percent from a year earlier, leaving a trade surplus of more than US$28 billion.
Consumer prices rose 2.6 percent last month, the statistics bureau said on Monday, leaving room for extra stimulus if needed. The producer-price index fell 1.6 percent, the least since February.
Li, in an opinion article published on Monday in the Financial Times, said the economy “will maintain its sustained and healthy growth,” with expansion around a 7.5 percent “lower limit” intended to ensure steady growth and employment.
Goldman Sachs Group last week raised its estimate for China’s growth for the third and fourth quarters, citing improving global demand and a stronger-than-expected domestic industrial recovery.
JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank AG raised their growth forecasts over the past month, bolstering optimism that Li will meet the government’s target for expansion this year.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News last month gave a median estimate for 7.5 percent expansion this quarter and 7.3 percent in the October-to-December period.