China factory output, retail sales beat expectations | Inquirer Business
A boost to economic recovery

China factory output, retail sales beat expectations

/ 11:52 AM November 15, 2023

Robotic arms assemble cars in the production line for Leapmotor's EV factory in Chian

Robotic arms assemble cars in the production line for Leapmotor’s electric vehicles at a factory in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, China, April 26, 2023. China Daily via REUTERS/File photo

BEIJING  –China‘s October economic activity perked up as industrial output grew at a faster pace and retail sales growth beat expectations, an encouraging sign for an economy still showing significant pockets of weakness despite a flurry of support measures.

The world’s second-biggest economy has struggled to mount a strong post-COVID recovery as a deepening property crisis, local government debt risks, slow global growth and geopolitical tensions have dented momentum.


China‘s industrial output grew 4.6 percent in October year-on-year, accelerating from the 4.5 percent pace seen in September, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Wednesday, beating expectations for a 4.4- percent increase in a Reuters poll. It also marked the strongest growth since April.


Retail sales, a gauge of consumption, rose 7.6 percent in October, quickening from a 5.5- percent gain in September and hitting the fastest growth since May. Analysts had expected retail sales to grow 7 percent due to the low base effect in 2022 when COVID curbs disrupted consumers and businesses.

Some analysts struck a cautious note on the upside data surprise, noting that the property sector remains a weak link for the economy and pointed to the lack of major reforms as another impediment to sustainable longer term revival.

“Due to the impact of holidays and low base effect in 2022, year-on-year figures cannot reflect the actual momentum of the economy,” said Xing Zhaopeng, senior China strategist at ANZ.

He said month-on-month figures suggest economic momentum has further weakened with “increasing deflationary risks”.

Even trips made during the eight-day Golden Week holiday earlier in October missed government estimate as economists say consumers are concerned about their jobs and income growth in an uncertain employment market.

The nationwide survey-based jobless rate stayed at 5 percent in October, unchanged from September, the NBS data showed.


China has been ramping up efforts to revive its post-COVID economy with a slew of policy support measures in recent months, although these steps have provided only modest benefits so far.

READ: China to bolster economic recovery and curb risks, central bank head says

Wednesday’s upbeat data comes as a raft of other indicators for October released over recent weeks pointed to muted growth momentum. While imports grew unexpectedly, exports shrank at a quicker pace, household borrowing remained weak, consumer prices swung lower while factory deflation persisted for the 13th straight month.

The country’s central bank, People’s Bank of China (PBOC), boosted liquidity injections but kept the interest rate unchanged when rolling over maturing medium-term policy loans on Wednesday, matching market expectations.

READ:  China central bank boosts liquidity injection via policy loan; rate unchanged

In a rare revision last month, the government also lifted its 2023 budget deficit to around 3.8 percent of gross domestic product from 3 percent to account for the planned issuance of 1 trillion yuan ($137.10 billion) in sovereign bonds.

The PBOC has cut banks’ reserve requirement ratio (RRR) twice this year to free up liquidity to aid the economic recovery. Analysts widely expect another RRR cut in the final months of this year.

China‘s crisis-hit property sector has yet to see a meaningful rebound despite strengthened support measures for homebuyers, including relaxing of home purchase restrictions and lowering in borrowing costs. The government plans to provide at least 1 trillion yuan of low-cost funding to the urban village renovation and affordable housing programs, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

READ: China’s property sales extend declines, weighing on outlook

Property investment fell 9.3 percent in January-October year-on-year, after a similarly sharp 9.1 percent drop in January-September.

Fixed asset investment expanded 2.9 percent in the first 10 months from the same period a year earlier, versus expectations for a 3.1- percent rise. It grew 3.1 percent in the January-September period.

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($1 = 7.2939 Chinese yuan renminbi)

TAGS: China, factory output, retail sales

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