China Oct factory output growth slows, retail sales miss expectations

October Data Suggest Softer Economic Growth

China's coal production rose in October from a year earlier, government data sowed on Tuesday, with miners ramping up output ahead of the winter heating season.

Output at factories and workshops expanded 6.2% year-on-year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, slowing from 6.6% in September and below a forecast of 6.3%. This has been the slowest paced that the retail sales experienced since the start of the year.

Fixed-asset investment excluding rural households, a key driver of domestic demand, grew 7.3% year-on-year in the January-October period, the weakest pace since 6.3% in the full year of 1999, according to NBS data.

China's economy has surprised financial markets with robust growth of almost 6.9% in the first nine months of this year, underpinned by a recovery in its manufacturing and industrial sectors, thanks to a government-led infrastructure spending spree, a resilient property market and unexpected strength in exports.

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Retail sales data also underwhelmed, with the rate of growth printing at 10% on the year after increasing by 10.3% in the month before.

Industrial production thus slowed last month from 6.6 percent in September as the government moved to wind down output at some steel factories and smelters in a drive to clean up the nation's smog-ridden cities. Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics, said the economic impact of debt curbs and capacity closures to meet environmental standards were partly offset by strong infrastructure spending.

"Generally speaking, the national economy maintained stable performance with improved quality and sound momentum", NBS spokeswoman Liu Aihua told reporters.

The utilization rate for the coal mining and coal washing sectors rose to 69 percent in the third quarter, up 10.6 percentage points from same period a year ago, reaching the highest level since 2015, the statistics bureau said in a statement on Monday. "There's still some caution (on the economy), but we're certainly not pessimistic".

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