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China's industrial profits fall in Jan-Feb as virus hurts activities

Updated: Mar 27,2020 11:15 AM    Xinhua

BEIJING — Profits of China's major industrial firms slumped in the first two months of 2020 as the novel coronavirus outbreak deals a huge blow to industrial production, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on March 27.

Profits of industrial companies with annual revenue of more than 20 million yuan (about $2.84 million) totaled 410.7 billion yuan in the January-February period, down 38.3 percent year-on-year, the NBS said in a statement.

Many industrial companies suspended operations during February in response to the novel coronavirus disease, resulting in a significant decline in production and sales, said NBS official Zhang Weihua.

Factors including rising costs, lower prices of industrial products and reduced profit margins for most industrial sectors also contributed to the drop, Zhang said.

Profits in 37 of the 41 industrial sectors surveyed fell compared with one year earlier, according to the NBS.

Industrial firms in the manufacturing sector saw combined profits slump by 42.7 percent year-on-year while firms in the mining industry registered a profit decline of 21.1 percent.

Profits of State-owned industrial firms dropped 32.9 percent from one year earlier while that for private companies fell 36.6 percent.

Although the overall industrial sector registered a notable profit drop, profits of industries providing life essentials, for example, remain in expansion territory, Zhang noted.

In the January-February period, profits of oil and gas exploration and non-staple food processing industries gained 23.7 percent and 2.2 percent from the same period of 2019, respectively, while that of the pharmaceutical industry shrank 10.9 percent, posting a much smaller drop than the broader industrial downturn.

With the epidemic effectively curbed in the country, China's economic activities have gradually recovered and economic order is resuming, Zhang said.

"As businesses accelerate their pace of work resumption, the short-term epidemic fallout will abate and industrial profits will see an improvement," Zhang added.