China's Property Investment Growth Hits Five-Year High Driven by Smaller Cities

China Gas Holdings

Growth in China's industrial output fell to a 17-year low in the first two months of the year and the jobless rate rose, pointing to further weakness in the world's second-biggest economy that is likely to trigger more support measures from Beijing, Trend reports referring to Reuters.

Growth had been expected to cool to 5.5 percent from December's 5.7 percent.

But investment picked up speed as the government fast-tracked more road and rail projects, offering some relief for policymakers as they work to avert a sharper slowdown, data showed on Thursday.

China set its 2019 economic growth target at 6.0-6.5 percent this year, slower than the growth recorded in 2018.

In January and February vehicle sales continued to fall and manufacturing activity sunk.

China's manufacturers are facing weaker sales at home and overseas, with exports hit by USA tariffs on Chinese goods and cooling global demand. They raised 2.45 trillion yuan ($365.38 billion) in the first two months of the year, up 2.1 percent from the same period last year, slower than the 6.4 percent rise in the full year of 2018, the NBS said.

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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.

Benchmark rebar prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange have climbed 10 percent in the past two months and hit a peak of 3,908 yuan ($582.82) a tonne on February 11, the highest level since late August.

Falling property sales in Jan-Feb due to Lunar New Year factors. 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.

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 exports to all of its major markets fell across the board last month.

The consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 1.5 percent year-on-year in February, compared with 1.7 percent in January, the NBS said.

On an annual basis, home prices rose 10.4 percent in February, accelerating from a 10.0 percent gain in January. Most of the 70 cities surveyed by the NBS still reported monthly price increases for new homes, though the number was down to 57 from 58 in January.

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