China’s economic activity shows modest rebound in first two months of the year

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China’s economic activity rebounded moderately in the first two months of the year, with industrial production and retail sales growth falling short of market expectations, underscoring the lingering scars from the country’s once-stringent Covid restrictions.

Industrial output in January-February rose 2.4% on year, up from a 1.3% increase in December, the National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday. The reading was lower than the 2.8% growth expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

China combines major economic indicators in the first two months of the year to avoid distortions from the different timing for the Lunar New Year holidays when business operations are suspended with workers heading home for family reunions.

Retail sales, a major gauge of China’s consumption, increased 3.5% on year in the first two months, higher than the 1.8% fall in December, but lower than the 4.0% growth expected by surveyed economists.

China’s fixed-asset investment rose 5.5% on year in January-February, higher than the 4.5% expected by economists and the 5.1% increase recorded in 2022.

China’s surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas stood at 5.6% in February, higher than the 5.5% rate in January, the statistics bureau said.

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