China Economic Data Disappoint; Anti-Corruption Drive, Disinflation Seen As Potential Factors Affecting Retail Sales While Premier Li Keqiang Expresses Confidence

Chinese yuan
Chinese banknotes are seen at a vendor's cash box at a market in Beijing February 14, 2014.

Data on retail sales and industrial production in China came in below forecast Thursday, MarketWatch reported, citing numbers released by the National Bureau of Statistics, adding to mounting concerns that the world’s second-largest economy might be facing an overall slowdown.

Growth in industrial production in China slowed to 8.6 percent in the first two months of 2014, compared to a 9.7 percent expansion in December, and growth in retail sales narrowed to 11.8 percent from 13.1 percent in December, MarketWatch reported. A Wall Street Journal consensus estimate had pegged industrial production to expand at 9.5 percent and retail sales to grow at 13.5 percent.

Analysts at Societe Generale attributed the fall in retail sales to “anti-corruption drive and disinflation” while pinning the slowing of industrial production on rising inventories, according to MarketWatch.

Earlier, Premier Li Keqiang reportedly gave his vote of confidence to the future of the Chinese economy at a press conference to mark the conclusion of the National People’s Congress.

“The Chinese economy has great potential and resilience. We are capable of, and have the conditions to make sure the economy runs within a reasonable range,” he said, according to MarketWatch, before adding: “The situation this year is more complicated.”

The Shanghai Composite index, which had climbed to trade up 1.3 percent following Li’s comments lost some of its gains after the data release and was trading up 0.81 percent in late-afternoon trade. The Hang Seng index, which had rallied to trade up 0.5 percent subsequently fell to trade down 0.4 percent.

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