Information on industrial production, fixed assets, retail trade

Costco’s third store in mainland China began trial operations on March 10, 2023 in Shanghai’s Pudong District.

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BEIJING – China on Wednesday reported retail sales for the first two months of the year that only met expectations, while property investment fell further.

Industrial production rose 2.4% in January-February, less than the 2.6% expected by a Reuters poll.

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Retail sales rose 3.5%, in line with expectations. Most categories in retail grew, but big-ticket items such as automobiles and home appliances showed a decline in sales. In the first two months of the year, online retail sales of physical goods increased by 5.3% compared to last year.

Fixed capital investment rose 5.5%, beating expectations for a 4.4% increase.

But within this category, real estate investment fell 5.7% in January and February from a year ago. This follows a 10% decline in property investment last year. Investments in infrastructure and production grew at a slower pace in the first two months of the year than in 2022.

According to the Bureau of Statistics, urban unemployment reached 5.6% in February, up 0.1 percentage point from January. According to the data, the unemployment rate among 16-24-year-olds remained persistently high at 18.1%.

The data releases combine January and February figures, as is customary with the Chinese Bureau of Statistics, to avoid new moon bias. The biggest holiday of the year in China marks a travel period of more than a month and can fall in two months depending on the year.

The figures represent the first months since China ended strict Covid controls in early December.

Preliminary data and anecdotes suggest that tourism and restaurant dining have rebounded, but overall consumer spending remains too low. At the same time, business surveys show that industrial activity has increased.

Chinese authorities this month announced a growth target of around 5%, which new Premier Li Qiang warned would not be easy for the country.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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