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Chinese industrial output, retail sales add to downbeat economic trend

Chinese industrial as well as retail growth is slowing, fresh official data have shown. The latest figures support signs of a general slowdown in the world's second biggest economy.

China's April industrial output, which measures production at factories, workshops and mines, rose 8.7 percent compared with the same period the year before, China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, down from 8.8 percent a month earlier.

In March, output rose 8.8 percent, which followed an increase of 8.6 percent in the first two months of the year - the slowest in five years.

April retail sales were up 11.9 percent year-on-year, down from a 12.2-percent rise in March.

Fixed-asset investment, which measures government spending on infrastructure, rose at its slowest pace in more than 12 years in the first four months of the year.

The housing market, which affects about 40 other industries in China and is thus seen as a key sector, is also showing signs of weakness.

Revenues from property sales fell 7.8 percent in the first four of months of the year compared with the same period last year.

Downbeat trend

Tuesday's figures add to a series of data pointing to a slowdown in China, whose economy grew by 7.4 percent in the first three months of 2014, compared with the same period the year before.

The figure was weaker than the 7.7-percent growth from October to December and the worst since a similar 7.4-percent expansion in the third quarter of 2012. For 2014, economists predict the weakest growth in 24 years.

Beijing has introduced a host of measures to shore up the economy, such as faster investment in railway and shanty town constructions, easing reserve requirements for rural banks and tax breaks for smaller firms.

But critics say the measures do not go far enough, pointing to the slowdown in fixed-asset investment.

ng/hg (AFP, Reuters)

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