BEIJING, April 16 (Reuters) - Profits at China’s centrally-held state firms rose 13.1 percent in the first quarter this year to 426.5 billion yuan ($63.57 billion) from a year ago, the country’s state assets regulator said on Tuesday.
That was slower than the 20.9 percent growth in earnings for the first quarter last year and the 16.7 percent increase for the whole of 2018.
For March, profits increased by 10.8 percent on-year, slowing from the January-February gain of 15.3 percent, according to a statement issued by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) ahead of a regular briefing.
Fixed-asset investments at petroleum and petrochemical companies surged 39.3 percent in the first quarter, said SASAC spokesman Peng Huagang, adding that investments in steel, coal sectors were on the decline.
The world’s second-largest economy is growing at its weakest pace in almost three decades amid weaker domestic demand and a months-long trade war with the United States. Multi-year campaigns to curb debt risks and pollution have also deterred fresh investment.
In response, the government has lowered its economic target to between 6 percent and 6.5 percent this year, from around 6.5 percent last year, while rolling out massive tax cuts worth nearly 2 trillion yuan.
To bankroll the tax cuts and support fiscal revenue, Beijing has said the government would collect more profits from certain state-owned financial institutions and centrally-owned firms.
Reporting by Stella Qiu and Ryan Woo Editing by Shri Navaratnam