China records strong factory output

BEIJING (AFP/APP): China’s industrial output recorded strong growth in April after last year’s pandemic-induced slump, official data showed Monday, but retail sales picked up less than expected amid uncertainty in the global economy.

The world’s second-largest economy, where the coronavirus first surfaced in late 2019, was also the first to bounce back from strict virus lockdowns.

It was a recovery led by factory activity, with Chinese firms producing everything from protective gear to electronics and other consumer goods desired by global consumers stuck at home and ordering online. Industrial output rose 9.8 percent on-year last month, in line with expectations.

“Production demand continued to grow… and the economy continued to stabilise and resume development,” said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.
But it cautioned that the global epidemic situation remained “complicated, and the recovery of the world economy is very uneven”. Retail sales grew 17.7 percent, but missed expectations. In April, the urban unemployment rate fell slightly to 5.1 percent, the NBS added.

With vaccines being rolled out around the world, especially in the key US market, and economically painful lockdowns being eased, demand for China’s goods picked up this year after falling off a cliff in 2020.

Although China’s strong economic figures are in part attributable to last year’s low base of comparison due to the virus outbreak, they show that recovery continues, with a broader rebound.