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Economic momentum maintained

Xin Zhiming and Wang Yanfei
Updated: Sep 14,2016 7:29 AM     China Daily

China continued its economic impetus last month, with better-than-expected results recorded in several major indicators, according to government data.

Analysts said the economy appears to be stabilizing, despite the fragile global market and problems remaining with domestic development.

The industrial sector continued the trend seen in July, with year-on-year growth climbing to 6.3 percent in August, a month-on-month increase of 0.3 percentage points. This was the fastest growth in five months, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Sept 13.

The market had expected industrial growth to expand by 6.1 percent, according to a Reuters poll.

Forecasts exceeded

Retail sales growth rose to 10.6 percent in August, compared with 10.2 percent in July, while fixed-asset investment grew 8.2 percent year-on-year in August, up by 4.3 percentage points from the previous month, according to the bureau.

Sheng Laiyun, spokesman for the bureau, said at a news conference: “On the whole, there have been positive changes in the national economy, with main indicators picking up, structural reform deepening and growth of new sectors accelerating. The over-all trend of economic growth stabilizing this year has continued (in August).”

Sheng said considerable headway has been made in structural reform. For example, steel industry stocks fell by 12.2 percent year-on-year in the first eight months, and the asset liability ratio of major industrial enterprises fell to 56.4 percent by the end of July, a 0.6 percentage point drop from a year ago.

Output of high-tech industries grew by 11.8 percent in August, higher than overall industrial output growth, while sales in emerging industries, such as online medical services and online education, saw fast growth.

Liu Dongliang, an economist at China Merchants Bank, said, “The August data beat market expectations, indicating that economic downturn pressure has eased and the country’s growth-stabilizing policies have taken effect.”

Fixed-asset investment, in particular, was a bright spot in August, with four consecutive months of declines halted.

Gao Yuwei, a researcher at the Institute of International Finance, a Bank of China think tank, said, “There have been signs of investment stabilizing and improving.”

But Liu warned that the stabilization could be temporary, adding that more time was needed to ascertain whether the improving trend would continue in coming months.

“In the second half of this year, China may face tighter fiscal expenditure pressure, leading to slower growth of infrastructure investment, which could drag on overall fixed-asset investment growth,” he said.

Another potential risk is private investment, which grew by just 2.1 percent year-on-year in the first eight months of the year, the same as in the January-July period and remaining at record lows, according to the bureau.

China has attempted to boost private investment, which largely reflects the vitality of the economy and plays a crucial role in contributing to balanced and stable economic growth.

But enterprises have found it hard to find potentially profitable projects to invest amid sluggish national economic growth.