[BEIJING] China's factory output rose 6.8 per cent in January and February compared with the same period last year, missing forecasts and reinforcing expectations that the economy will grow at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century this year.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a 7.8 per cent rise.
Fixed-asset investment, a crucial driver of the world's second-largest economy, rose 13.9 per cent in January and February from a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday.
Economists had expected a 15 per cent gain.
Retail sales rose 10.7 per cent in the first two months of the year, again missing expectations for a 11.7 per cent rise.
China combines its January and February data releases for investment, retail sales and factory output to minimise distortions from the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in late January last year but mid-February this year.
Sluggish growth in factory output reinforces views that China's economic growth will slow to around 7 per cent this year from 7.4 per cent in 2014, even with expected additional stimulus measures.