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China's industrial output up 7.3% in April

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China's industrial output grew 7.3 percent in April from a year ago, slower than the 8.3 percent in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday.

The figure was at the high end of analysts' expectations, which ranged from 7.1 percent to 7.3 percent.

The figure for January-April was up 5.5 percent year on year.

The slowdown in April was a natural correction from March, when enterprises were busy stockpiling after the Lunar New Year, said Lu Zhengwei, an analyst at the Industrial Bank.

This year, the long Lunar New Year holiday began in January and ended in February. That was two weeks earlier than in 2008.

Lu added that after inventories were rebuilt in April, industrial conditions were still "grim."

Industrial output for exports was 566.21 billion yuan ($83.27 billion) last month, down 14.3 percent from a year earlier, the NBS said. Exports sank 22.6 percent in April, the sixth monthly decline in a row.

Power consumption dropped 3.5 percent year on year to 271.29 billion kilowatt-hours in April.

Broken down, output of the textile industry was up 7.8 percent and that of transportation facility manufacturing rose 9.6 percent. The iron and steel industry's output contracted 1.7 percent.

Industrial production hadn't resumed high growth in the second quarter, and China would strive to trim excess capacity after the process of destocking was completed, said the quarterly economic prediction from the State Information Center (SIC), a government think-tank, early this month.

SIC predicted industrial output would grow 7.1 percent in the second quarter.

After five years of rapid expansion and runaway investment, industrial capacity was burgeoning, and the new capacity had not been fully digested by the market even before the world economy turned down, the report said.

Closing excess capacity would be a long, arduous task, said the report.

To prop up economic growth, which had sunk to a decade low in the first quarter, China had pumped 4 trillion yuan into stimulus spending. As that money flowed into local projects, fixed-asset investment soared 30.5 percent in the first four months.

New credit extended in the first quarter stood at a record 4.58 trillion yuan, but new lending cooled in April to 591.8 billion yuan. The broad measure of money supply expanded 25.95 percent to 54.05 trillion yuan at end-April from a year earlier, the central bank said Monday.

Based on historical analysis, industrial output was likely to stabilize 10 months after money supply and bank credit growth had both accelerated for three months, said Fan Jianping of the SIC.

Assuming that pattern held up, industrial production could start to stabilize in the fourth quarter, Fan said.

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