(adds comment from stats bureau, background)
BEIJING May 15 China's factory output and fixed
asset investment growth cooled more than expected in April,
adding to signs that momentum in the world's second-biggest
economy is slowing from a strong start in the first quarter.
Factory output rose 6.5 percent in April from a year
earlier, while fixed-asset investment grew 8.9 percent in the
first four months of the year, both worse than expectations.
The soft activity data, combined with weak manufacturing
sector growth and slowing producer prices inflation, reinforced
analysts' view that China's economic expansion remains solid but
is starting to taper off.
Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted factory output
would grow by 7.1 percent in April, easing from March's 7.6
Output growth slowed on tumbling steel and iron ore prices
amid concern over rising inventories after China's mills cranked
out as much metal as possible to drive factory output to its
highest since December 2014.
Fixed asset investment had been forecast to grow 9.1 percent
over the first four months of the year, easing from 9.2 percent
Retail sales rose 10.7 percent in April from a year earlier.
Analysts had expected a 10.6 percent rise, edging lower from the
Private investment growth slowed to 6.9 percent in
January-April period from 7.7 percent in the first quarter, the
National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday, suggesting small-
and medium-sized private firms still face challenges in
Private investment accounts for about 60 percent of overall
investment in China.
With growth comfortably above this year's target of around
6.5 percent, Chinese policymakers have shifted their focus to
reining in financial risks and stamping out speculative activity
in the property market.
China's National Bureau of Statistics said Monday that more
positive factors were seen in the economy in April, though
structural problems remain.
China is targeting growth of around 9 percent in fixed asset
investment for 2017, and expects retail sales to increase about
The country's first quarter economic growth came in at a
faster-than-expected 6.9 percent, the quickest since 2015 on
higher government infrastructure spending and a gravity-defying
China has cut its economic growth target to around 6.5
percent this year to give policymakers more room to push through
painful reforms and contain financial risks after years of
(Reporting by Kevin Yao; Writing by Elias Glenn; Editing by