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China’s economy on solid footing despite external headwinds

Updated: Aug 15,2018 9:20 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — The Chinese economy remains on a solid footing despite a more complicated domestic and external environment, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

“The economic performance is generally stable in July, with new progress being made,” Liu Aihua, NBS spokesperson, told a news conference on Aug 14.

Dragged by cooling infrastructure investment, growth of fixed-asset investment (FAI) slowed to 5.5 percent in the first seven months of the year, down from 6 percent in the first half of the year and continuing a downward trend since the beginning of the year.

Infrastructure investment growth softened to 5.7 percent in the period, compared with a rise of 7.3 percent for H1.

Liu attributed the slowdown in infrastructure investment to a higher comparative base from last year, the government’s efforts to regulate public-private partnership projects and higher environmental standards.

Retail sales climbed 8.8 percent in July from a year earlier, slightly down from the 9-percent rise registered in June.

Although some indicators showed slight pullback in growth, Liu said the economic structure had been optimizing, with better quality and efficiency, which would lay a sound foundation for growth in the coming period.

Industrial output expanded 6 percent year-on-year last month, unchanged from in June.

A breakdown of the data showed the output of high-tech manufacturing, equipment manufacturing and strategic emerging industries all posted strong growth, which increased 11.6 percent, 9 percent and 8.6 percent respectively.

Industrial profits of major enterprises gained 17.2 percent in H1, accelerating from 16.5 percent for January-May.

In one of the bright spots, private investment, which accounts for about 60 percent of overall investment, rose at a faster pace. FAI by the private sector climbed 8.8 percent year-on-year in the first seven months, up from 8.4 percent in H1.

Employment remained stable, with 8.8 million new jobs being created in the first seven months, fulfilling 80 percent of the government’s annual target. The survey-based urban unemployment rate stood at 5.1 percent in July, 0.3 percentage points higher than June.

Liu said readings of the July data showed the economy had been running within a reasonable range, a hard-won result amid complicated domestic and external environment as well as adverse weather conditions.

As the government vows to improve infrastructure and accelerate approval of projects, Liu said he expected the growth of infrastructure investment and FAI to pick up and stabilize in H2.

Analysts said the continued softness in investment and consumption growth called for more decisive and coordinated policy moves.

“Although we have seen some early signs of financial condition easing and fiscal loosening in July,” the softness of some indicators and higher unemployment rate highlighted the urgency to more timely and coordinated policy adjustments to anchor the growth expectations and backstop the “vicious cycle” of financial condition tightening, CICC analyst Liu Wenqi said.

Looking ahead, Liu Aihua said the government would enhance implementation of policies and strive to keep employment, the financial sector, foreign trade, investment and expectations stable.

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