April 17, 2019 / 2:11 AM / 3 months ago

China's March industrial output up 8.5 pct, fastest pace in over 4-1/2 years

BEIJING, April 17 (Reuters) - China’s industrial output grew 8.5 percent in March from a year earlier, the fastest pace since July 2014, official data showed on Wednesday, as factories ramped up output in anticipation of more businesses amid government support measures.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected industrial output would grow 5.9 percent, accelerating from 5.3 percent in the combined January-February period.

The fixed-asset investment grew 6.3 percent in the first three months of 2019 from the same period a year earlier, the strongest pace since January-April last year and in line with expectations, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected investment growth to pick up to 6.3 percent from 6.1 percent in the first two months of the year, as the government fast-tracked more road, rail and port projects to support the slowing economy.

Private-sector fixed-asset investment, which accounts for about 60 percent of overall investment in China, rose 6.4 percent, compared with an increase of 7.5 percent in the first two months.

Retail sales rose 8.7 percent in March on-year at their highest pace since September last year and more than a forecast rise of 8.4 percent. Sales were also up from Jan-Feb’s 8.2 percent gain.

China’s economic growth slowed to a near 30-year low of 6.6 percent in 2018 amid weakening demand at home and abroad, and is expected to cool further to around 6.2 percent this year, according to a Reuters poll.

Beijing has been rolling out support measures for months to reduce the risk of a sharper slowdown, and more are expected, but many analysts do not expect activity to convincingly stabilise until summer. (Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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