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China's Statistics Bureau: Economic Activity, Business Environment Improved

  • Associated Press

FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2017 photo, a worker prepares to put a spare tire into a Haval SUV H2 model in the Great Wall Motors assembly plant in Baoding in north China's Hebei province.

Activity in China's real economy has improved with the business environment much better than at the same time last year, the statistics bureau says.

"Based on key indicators from January and February this year, we feel that the vitality of the real economy has been boosted, [and] its results have improved. With a further push of supply-side structural reform, there has been tangible change in the market environment and the supply-demand relationship has improved," said National Statistics Bureau spokesperson Sheng Laiyun at a news conference in Beijing.

Data released by the statistics bureau earlier on Tuesday showed that China's factory output rose 6.3 percent in January-February from the same period a year earlier, while fixed-asset investment grew 8.9 percent, both beating expectations, though retail sales growth eased.

Sales grew 9.5 percent in the first two months of the year, the slowest pace in nearly two years and cooling from 10.9 percent in December.

Sheng said consumption stayed flat in China, stressing the decline in growth is mainly due to a slowdown in auto sales after the government rolled back tax breaks on small cars.

The raft of upbeat data on Tuesday showing the economy got off to a strong start in 2017, supported by strong bank lending, a government infrastructure spree and a much-needed resurgence in private investment.

Solid growth is welcome news for China's policymakers as they turn their focus to containing risks from a sharp build-up in debt ahead of a major leadership reshuffle later this year.

But economists are not sure how long the pace can be sustained as the central bank takes a tighter stance on credit and exporters brace for a surge in U.S. protectionism.

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