Industrial output in China, the world’s second-biggest economy, rose 6 percent year-on-year in April, down from a 6.8 percent growth in March, official data revealed Saturday, suggesting that the country's economy is still struggling.

The latest figures were below analysts' expectations, who, according to a Reuters poll, expected a 6.5 percent rise during the same period. A survey of 15 economists by the Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, had forecast growth of 6.6 percent. China's National Bureau of Statistics cited weak external demand, a slowdown in mining — linked to overcapacity in steel and coal — and rising commodity prices as the main factors contributing to the decline.

On a month-on-month basis, China's industrial output grew by 0.47 percent in April, compared with a 0.64 percent rise in March.

Further underlining a lingering weakness in Asia’s largest economy, fixed-asset investments — excluding rural households — and retail sales also grew at a slower pace than expected. Investments, which had registered growth of 10.7 percent in the January-March period, slowed to 10.5 percent in April, missing analyst estimates of 10.9 percent to 11 percent.

Retail sales, meanwhile, grew by 10.1 percent last month, down from 10.5 percent growth in March, and missing estimates of 10.5 percent to 10.6 percent.

China’s economy is growing at its slowest pace in over 20 years, driven down by global and domestic demand, overcapacity in its factories and increasing amounts of debt. The country has been trying to make supply-side reforms to cut excess industrial capacity, and is also encouraging banks to increase lending to private firms.