China January-February steel output rises from December on strong margins

China Gas Holdings

Chinese Slowdown Deepens: Industrial Output at 17-Year Low

Fixed-asset investment growth was 6.1 percent year-on-year in the combined January to February period, compared with 5.9 percent for the whole of 2018, the NBS said on Thursday.

China combines Janaury 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 may not emerge first-quarter data is released in April.

China's retail sales of consumer goods held steady in the first two months of the year, with strong growth in online sales and the catering sector, official data showed Thursday.

After deducting price factors, the indicator grew 7.1 percent in real terms, accelerating from December's 6.6-percent rise, NBS spokesperson Mao Shengyong said at a press conference.

"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. The data indicated the slowest pace of expansion in the last 17 years and came in below economists' expectations of 5.5% and December's 5.7% gain.

In January and February vehicle sales continued to fall and manufacturing activity sunk.

China's manufacturers are facing weaker sales at home and overseas, with exports hit by U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods and cooling global demand. Fixed-asset investment rose 6.1 percent in the first two months, from 5.9 percent in 2018.

Job shedding by export-oriented companies led to a jump in the unemployment rate last month, said Li Xiru, an official with the statistics bureau.

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was in no rush to complete a trade pact with China and insisted that any deal include protection for intellectual property, a major sticking point between the two sides during months of negotiations.

Retail sales were also marginally better than expected, with the headline figure rising 8.2 percent in January-February from a year earlier, in line with December.

During the January-February period, the producer price index, which measures factory-gate prices, edged up by 0.1 percent year-on-year.

Regulators have ordered big banks to increase loans to smaller firms by more than 30 percent this year, despite the risk of more bad loans.

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