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China's economic recovery accelerates as consumer spending picks up


China's economic recovery accelerates as consumer spending picks up

China’s shaky economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is gaining strength as consumers return to shopping malls and auto dealerships while the United States and Europe endure painful contractions.

The world’s second-largest economy expanded by 4.9% in the three months ending in September, official data showed Monday (Oct 19). Retail spending rebounded to above pre-virus levels for the first time and factory output rose, boosted by demand for exports of masks and other medical supplies.

The recovery is broadening out and becoming less reliant on government stimulus, Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report. He said growth is “still accelerating” heading into the present quarter.

China, where the pandemic began in December, became the first major economy to return to growth after the ruling Communist Party declared the disease under control in March and began reopening factories, shops and offices.

It is the only major economy that is expected to grow this year while activity in the United States, Europe and Japan shrinks.

The Chinese economy expanded by 3.2% over a year earlier in the three months ending in June, rebounding from the previous quarter’s 6.8% contraction, its worst performance since at least the mid-1960s.

The economy “continued the steady recovery,” the National Bureau of Statistics said in a report. However, it warned, “the international environment is still complicated and severe.” It said China faces great pressure to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

Authorities have lifted curbs on travel and business but visitors to government and other public buildings still are checked for the virus’s telltale fever. Travelers arriving from abroad must be quarantined for two weeks.

Last week, more than 10 million people were tested for the virus in the eastern port of Qingdao after 12 cases were found there. That broke a two-month streak with no virus transmissions reported within China.

Industrial production rose 5.8% over the same quarter last year, a marked improvement over the first half’s 1.3% contraction. Chinese exporters are taking market share from foreign competitors that still are hampered by anti-virus controls.

Retail sales rose 0.9% over a year earlier. That was up from a 7.2% contraction in the first half as consumers, already anxious about a slowing economy and a tariff war with Washington, put off buying. Online commerce rose 15.3%.

In a sign demand is accelerating, sales in September rose 3.3%.

“China’s recovery in private consumption is gathering momentum,” said Stephen Innes of AxiCorp in a report.

– Source: News websites

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