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August industrial output, retail sales

August was marked by extremely hot temperatures in parts of China, prompting temporary power rationing in some regions. Pictured here on Aug. 24, 2022, is the central city of Chongqing’s skyline with the lights partially turned off to conserve energy during the heatwave.

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BEIJING — China reported data Friday that showed a pickup in growth in August from the prior month. The data also came in above expectations across the board.

Retail sales grew by 5.4% in August from a year ago, topping a Reuters forecast for 3.5% growth. Catering sales rose by 8.4% in August from a year ago, while autos and food sales also grew significantly. That helped retail sales for the year through August grow by 0.5% from a year ago. Cosmetics and home furniture were among the few categories showing a sales decline in August from a year ago.

Online sales of physical goods rose by 12.8% in August from a year ago, faster than the 10.1% growth in July, according to CNBC calculations of official data.

Industrial production rose by 4.2% in August from a year earlier, beating the 3.8% increase estimated in a Reuters poll of analysts

Fixed asset investment for the first eight months of the year rose by 5.8%, above the 5.5% increase forecast by Reuters. Investment in manufacturing picked up the most, up by 10% from the year-ago period. Infrastructure investment grew at a slower pace than in July, on a year-to-date basis.

Real estate investment for the year declined further as of August, down by 7.4% from the year-ago period versus a 5.2% decline reported for the year as of July.

The unemployment rate for young people ages 16 to 24 edged lower to 18.7% in August. It remained far higher than the overall unemployment rate in cities, which was 5.3% in August, down slightly from the prior month.

“Generally speaking, the national economy withstood the impacts of multiple unexpected factors and sustained the momentum of recovery and growth with major indicators showing positive changes,” the National Bureau of Statistics said in a press release. “However, we should be aware that the international environment is still complicated and severe and the foundation of domestic economic recovery is not solid.”

China’s economy has remained under pressure due in part to Covid controls, which notably stranded tens of thousands of tourists in the tropical island of Hainan in August.

The summer month was also marked by extremely hot temperatures in parts of China, prompting temporary power rationing in some regions.

Export growth slowed to 7.1% year-on-year in August, signaling that driver of Chinese growth might be waning as global demand falters. Domestic demand remained weak, with imports only rising by 0.3% from a year ago.

China’s consumer price index edged down from two-year highs to show a 2.5% year-on-year increase in August. But excluding food and energy, the index only rose by 0.8%, again reflecting lackluster demand.

The slump of the massive real estate sector has also weighed on demand. A few weeks earlier, Chinese developer Country Garden described the property market has having “slid rapidly into severe depression.”

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