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China’s Economy Growing Faster Than Expected

FILE - A laborer works at a steel plant of Shandong Iron & Steel Group in Jinan, Shandong province, China, July 7, 2017. Activity in China’s steel industry expanded in August at the fastest pace since April 2016.

China’s producer price inflation accelerated more than expected to a four-month high in August, fueled by strong gains in raw materials prices and pointing to strong, sustained growth for both factory profits and the economy.

The producer price index (PPI) rose 6.3 percent in August from a year earlier, from 5.5 percent in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said Saturday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected the August producer price inflation rate would edge up to 5.6 percent, its first pickup in six months.

Strong industrial profits

China’s industrial firms have been posting their strongest profits in years thanks to a government-led construction boom that has fueled demand and prices for everything from cement to steel.

The country’s strong appetite for resources such as iron ore has helped fuel a reflationary pulse in the manufacturing sector worldwide.

But analysts continue to maintain that factory-gate prices will lose steam eventually as the government continues to clamp down on riskier types of financing, which is slowly pushing consumer and corporate borrowing costs higher.

China’s commodities futures markets have rallied hard this year and continued to surge through in August. Strong restocking demand and government pledges to shut inefficient and highly polluting mines and plants have underscored concerns over tight supply heading into winter.

Steel industry expands

Activity in China’s steel industry expanded in August at the fastest pace since April 2016, reflecting high levels of production and low inventory.

With the industrial sector in high gear, China’s economy grew by a faster-than-expected 6.9 percent in the first half of this year, turbo-charged by heavy government spending and massive bank lending last year.

That momentum plus strong August readings so far should allow Beijing to easily meet or beat its full-year growth target of 6.5 percent.

Indeed, relatively steady growth through the rest of the year would see the world’s second-largest economy accelerate for the first time in seven years. Last’s years pace of 6.7 percent was the slowest in 26 years.

China’s consumer inflation rate also rose more than expected to a seven-month high of 1.8 percent in August, the bureau said, the first time it has accelerated in three months.

The consumer price index (CPI) had been expected to rise 1.6 percent on-year compared with an increase of 1.4 percent in July.

Food prices, the biggest component of the consumer price index (CPI), fell 0.2 percent from a year earlier.

Nonfood price inflation quickened to 2.3 percent in August from 2 percent in July. Analysts had expected the CPI to rise 1.6 percent from 1.4 percent in July but remain well within the central bank’s comfort zone.