China's industrial output increase disappoints

Textile factory in central China's Anhui province
Image caption Manufacturing, a key driver of China's economic growth in recent years, has slowed down

Industrial production in China recorded a smaller-than-expected rise in April, underlining worries that the economy may be losing steam.

Output rose 9.3% from a year ago, which was up from March's figure of 8.9% but below market forecasts for a 9.5% rise.

Fixed-asset investment also weakened in the first four months of 2013.

Last week, a separate survey suggested that manufacturing activity, a subset of industrial production, grew at a slower pace in April.

"This is not the start of a rally, it is a sputtering whimper as momentum continues to fade," said economists at IHS Global Insight.

IHS also said that slowing fixed-asset investment - a key measure of government spending - suggested weakness in manufacturing and infrastructure construction, and warned that the pace could fall further amid government efforts to curb the housing market.

Separately, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts also warned that there was an increased "downside risk" to the economy.

China's economy expanded at an annual rate of 7.7% in the first three months of the year, down from 7.9% in the previous quarter.

Officials have warned that the economy is set to slow as the government attempts to rebalance the economy by getting domestic consumer demand to drive growth, rather than investments and exports.

This attempt now appears to be having an impact. According to government statistics, in the first three months of this year, the largest part of the economy was services - not manufacturing.

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