China's economic slowdown deepens

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
China's economy is failing to catch some fresh breeze

Fresh economic data from China has added to a raft of indicators suggesting the world's second largest economy remains in the doldrums.

Both industrial output and retail sales fell short of expectations for the month of July.

The figures underline China's difficulty of transforming the economy away from factories and exports.

The data come just as economic growth had ever so slightly improved in the second quarter.

Earlier this week though, China's latest trade data had also pointed to a further slowdown.

A spokesman for the National Statistics Bureau said on Friday that the country's economy was still in a period of adjustment and facing downward pressure.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects China's GDP to grow by 6.6% this year, close to the low end of China's own official forecast of between 6.5% to 7%.

The IMF also warned China against setting annual growth targets rather than projections, which it claimed fostered "an undesirable focus on short-term, low quality stimulus measures".

In a report, the Fund said it expected China's economic growth to slow towards 5.8% by 2021.

Economic transformation

Retail sales were up by 10.2% in July compared with a year earlier - below forecasts and a fall from the 10.6% increase in June.

Industrial output rose by 6% compared with the same period the previous year and was also weaker than analysts had expected.

Infrastructure spending as indicated by fixed asset investment also fell short of forecasts.

The National Bureau of Statistics pointed to flooding and high temperatures as the part of the reason.

Beijing's aim to rebalance the economy towards domestic consumption has lead to major challenges for large manufacturing sectors with layoffs, especially in heavily staffed state-run sectors such as the steel industry.

Even alternative gauges, such as cinema ticket sales, have recently indicated that consumer spending is not picking up as much as China would hope it to.