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China's property investment rises 11.6% y-o-y in Jan-Feb

17 March 2019

Despite the uncertain external environment and the downward pressure on the economy, the economic operations in the first two months were generally stable with investment growth accelerating, spokesperson for China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Mao Shengyong said. In December it was 5.7%.

However, retail sales remain near a 15-year low, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a note, adding that "the near-term outlook still looks downbeat".

"February's decrease in CPI growth was mainly due to the disturbance from the Spring Festival holiday, and we expect the figure to recover to about 1.8 percent in March", said Wang Qing, a researcher at Beijing-based Golden Credit Rating International. Fixed-asset investment rose 6.1 percent in the first two months, from 5.9 percent in 2018.

Consumer and business confidence has slipped over recent quarters in the wake of heightened economic uncertainty and a yet-unresolved Sino-U.S. trade dispute, discouraging residential investment.

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Other data released on Thursday showed growth in China's industrial output fell to a 17-year low in the first two months of the year.

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. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last week laid out a lower growth target of 6.0-6.5 percent this year, from 6.6 percent growth in 2018, which was already the slowest pace for nearly three decades.

That processing rate works out at about 12.68 million barrels per day (bpd), according to Reuters calculations based on the NBS data, exceeding the previous daily high hit in September at 12.49 million bpd.

Beijing has tried to restart spending.

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The latest data showed growth in retail sales for January-February remained flat from December, rising 8.2% year-on-year and slightly above forecasts from economists polled by Bloomberg News.

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. The pressure on unemployment could also be due to the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.

The two sides have exchanged tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, and China's exports and imports plummeted much more than expected in February.

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China's property investment rises 11.6% y-o-y in Jan-Feb