China April industrial output much less than expected; retail sales falter

Reuters BEIJING (Reuters) — Growth in China’s industrial output slowed more than expected to 5.4 percent in April from a 4½-year high in March, reinforcing views Beijing will have to roll out more stimulus measures as a trade war with the United States intensifies.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast industrial output would grow 6.5 percent, slowing from an unexpectedly strong 8.5 percent in March.

Fixed-asset investment rose 6.1 percent in January-April from the same period last year, also lagging expectations, the National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday.

Analysts had predicted a 6.4 percent increase, picking up slightly from 6.3 percent in January-March.

Private-sector fixed-asset investment, which accounts for about 60 percent of overall investment in China, rose 5.5 percent in the same period, compared with a increase of 6.4% in the first three months of the year.

Retail sales rose 7.2 percent in April on-year, the slowest pace since May 2003, sharply down from March’s 8.7 percent and missing a forecast rise of 8.6 percent .

The United States escalated a tariff war with China on Friday by hiking levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods in the midst of last-ditch talks to rescue a trade deal.

The United States move comes as China’s economy was beginning to show tentative signs of improvement after a flurry of support measures, though analysts had cautioned it was too early to call a recovery.

Economists at Citi estimate the U.S. tariff increase could lop 50 basis points off China’s GDP growth, reduce exports by 2.7 percent and cost the country another 2.1 million jobs, though they are optimistic a trade deal will be reached eventually.Speech

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