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China May retail sales beat expectations, other metrics miss

A worker welds steel at a workshop on June 8, 2024 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China.

Vcg | Visual China Group | Getty Images

China’s retail sales beat expectations in May, climbing 3.7% compared with a year ago, beating expectations of a 3% rise from a Reuters poll of economists.

However, other economic metrics, such as industrial output and fixed asset investment, missed Reuters forecasts.

Industrial output grew by 5.6% year-on-year, compared to the 6% increase expected, while fixed asset investment rose 4% compared to last May, just shy of the 4.2% forecast by the Reuters poll.

The country’s National Bureau of Statistics elaborated that the total retail sales of consumer goods reached 3.92 trillion yuan ($540.32 billion), with sales in urban areas up 3.7% year on year and sales in rural areas climbing by 4.1%.

On the other hand, the miss in fixed asset investment was dragged by a steeper drop in real estate investment. NBS said that excluding real estate, total fixed asset investment was 8.6% higher compared to last May.

Separately, the urban unemployment rate held steady at 5% in May, unchanged from April, and 0.2 percentage points lower than that of May last year.

China’s exports have held up, growing by 7.6% year-on-year in May in U.S. dollar terms, beating the Reuters’ forecast for a 6% increase. But imports missed expectations, rising by 1.8% during that time.

Loan data released Friday pointed to continued lackluster demand. Outstanding yuan loans rose by 9.3% in May from a year ago, the slowest increase on record since 1978, according to Wind Information.

M1 money supply, which includes cash in circulation and demand deposits, fell by 4.2% year-on-year in May, the most on record since 1986, according to Wind Information.

Goldman Sachs analysts pointed out that a state media outlet affiliated with China’s central bank attributed the slowdown in M1 growth to a crackdown on fake loans and outflows related to wealth management products.

Inflation data for May previously showed that consumer prices, excluding food and energy, rose by 0.6% from a year ago.

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