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[BEIJING] China's industrial output growth held steady in January and February, official data showed Tuesday, providing further evidence of stability in the world's second-largest economy despite slower retail sales growth.
Industrial output rose 6.3 per cent year-on-year in the first two months of 2017, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, slightly beating the 6.2 per cent forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.
Retails sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, increased 9.5 per cent over the period, down from 10.2 per cent in the same period last year. Sales grew 10.9 per cent in December.
Fixed-asset investment, a gauge of infrastructure spending, rose 8.9 per cent year-on-year in January-February.
Most data are "quite positive" and "apparently improving," NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyuan said in a news briefing, adding that production and demand have slightly picked up.
"China's economy is opening the year with a good start, although pro-growth policies to shore up consumption in coming months are needed," Gao Yuwei, a researcher at the Bank of China's Institute of International Finance, told Bloomberg.
Premier Li Keqiang announced a 2017 official economic growth target of "around 6.5 per cent, or higher if possible" in a government work report delivered to the National People's Congress on March 5, citing even "more complicated and graver situations" facing China this year.