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17 March 2019, 02:29 | Joann Bryant
China's 2017 GDP Data Was Not Falsified, Official Says
China's fixed-asset investment grew 6.1 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2019, 0.2 percentage points higher than that recorded in 2018, NBS data showed.
Beijing is rolling out more support measures to avert a sharper slowdown, but many analysts do not expect activity to convincingly bottom out until summer.
Natural gas output rose to 28.7 billion cubic metres in the first two months of 2019, up 9.2 percent from a year earlier, the data showed, with the growth accelerating after output expanded 7.5 percent for the whole of 2018.
In January and February vehicle sales continued to fall and manufacturing activity sunk.
However, retail sales remain near a 15-year low, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a note, adding that "the near-term outlook still looks downbeat".
China's normally steady unemployment rate rose to 5.3% in February, from 4.9% in December, with the NBS saying it had expected worse numbers.
Credit conditions have been on the looser side in recent months as China has cut the amount of cash banks keep as reserves five times since previous year to boost lending to companies. The statistical agency did not provide monthly breakdowns because of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday that fell in early February.
China's fixed asset investment (or FAI) rose by 6.1%, which was in line with economists' expectations.
Real estate investment, which mainly focuses on the residential sector but also includes commercial and office space, is a key driver of growth for the world's second-largest economy. The unemployment rise comes as the growth of industrial production fell to its lowest rate in a decade of 5.3% in January, and down from 5.7% growth in December.
Xining, the capital of Qinghai province in central China by the Tibetan Plateau, was the top performer last month with a monthly price increase of 2.3 percent. Private investment accounts for about 60 percent of overall investment in China, and Beijing has spent considerable effort trying to ease financial strains on smaller, private firms.
China's state planner announced measures in January to boost consumption of goods ranging from eco-friendly appliances to big-ticket items such as cars, but the size and scope of the subsidy scheme is still unclear. This year's GDP growth target was set between 6 and 6.5 percent, according to the Government Work Report.
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