China's Economy Continues to Strengthen
Dow Jones Newswires - China's economic recovery continued to gather pace in November, but some economists expressed caution about 2013.
The data bode well for China's fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth--various Chinese indicators have been strengthening since September, signaling that the slowdown in the world's second-largest economy has ended following government stimulus efforts, including a push for more infrastructure investment.
Industrial output in China rose a surprisingly strong 10.1% from a year earlier in November, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed, exceeding the median 9.8% forecast by 15 economists. The reading is up from 9.6% growth in October and the fastest pace of expansion since March.
"It's safe to say that the manufacturing sector is recovering," said HSBC economist Ma Xiaoping. "The current relatively loose policies should continue to reinforce a growth rebound."
Other data also pointed to strong activity in November. Electricity output, viewed by some analysts as a more reliable indicator of economic conditions than other official data, rose by 7.9% from a year earlier, the fastest pace all year and up from 6.4% in October.
The real estate sector, a key driver of the Chinese economy, showed healthy readings for both construction and sales of property units, as home-buyers return to the market on expectations that prices have bottomed.
In November, property development investment rose 28.5% from a year earlier, picking up from October's 15.5% increase, according to Dow Jones Newswires' calculations based on National Bureau of Statistics data.
Meanwhile, residential property sales surged 42.9% from a year earlier, according to the calculations, compared to 35.2% growth in October.
"Overall it's a quite strong set of numbers, supporting our view of rebounding GDP growth," Bank of America-Merrill Lynch economist Lu Ting said a in note.
Non-rural fixed-asset investment, a closely watched indicator of spending on facilities and equipment, rose 20.7% from a year earlier in the January-November period, unchanged from the January-October period.
Ms. Ma said the figure, although unchanged, indicates strong investment demand because there is normally seasonal weakness in the winter months for construction projects.
Inflation also picked up in November, driven by higher food prices, but economists said it remains well below levels that would be a concern for policy makers. The country's consumer price index rose 2.0% from a year earlier in November, rebounding from October's 1.7% rise, which was the slowest rate of inflation in nearly three years. Economists polled earlier had expected a 2.1% rise.
"Overall, the inflation figures are not alarming," said Nomura economist Zhang Zhiwei.
Bank of America's Mr. Lu said China's economy is in a "sweet spot" of rising growth and low inflation. But he said the situation may not last, as the side-effects of government stimulus policies such as rising government debt and risks in the financial system become more apparent.
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