BEIJING—China’s economic activity extended its momentum in November with an across-the-board recovery, putting the world’s second largest economy on stronger footing as it approaches the end of a tumultuous year.
Major economic indicators, including industrial output, investment and consumer spending, all grew at faster paces last month, supporting job growth and driving down unemployment rates, according to official data released Tuesday.
China’s industrial output rose 7.0% in November from a year earlier—its highest level in more than two years, China’s official National Bureau of Statistics said. The result was a tick up from 6.9% in October, and beat the 6.8% increase expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.
The industrial sector was the first to rebound from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic early this year, after Beijing rushed to restore production and business in the second quarter. Economists had anticipated industrial production would slow in recent months, as a resurgence of the coronavirus threatened to hurt demand abroad, but official figures, including Tuesday’s data, have defied those predictions.
“China’s economy continued to gather steam in November thanks to previous credit-easing policy and robust export demand,” said
an economist with
PLC. The investment bank had predicted the Chinese economy would grow 5.5% year over year in the final quarter of 2020, but stronger-than-expected performances in October and November might push the actual growth number above that, he said.
China’s fixed-asset investment, which includes spending on manufacturing, property and infrastructure projects, rose 2.6% in the January-November period compared with last year, according to data from the statistics bureau. That was faster than the 1.8% pace recorded in the first 10 months of the year, and beat economists’ expectations of 2.5%.
China’s urban jobless rate fell for the fourth straight month to 5.2% in November, compared with 5.3% in October, said the statistics bureau.
Economic growth in the fourth quarter is expected to accelerate further from the third quarter, thanks to rebounds in production and demand,
a spokesman of the statistics bureau, said in a briefing Tuesday.
China’s gross domestic product expanded 4.9% year over year in the third quarter, a strong rebound from the 6.8% contraction it experienced in the first quarter when economic activity ground nearly to a halt to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The economy, especially its export and industrial sectors, benefited from robust overseas demand for made-in-China, as the pandemic paralyzed production and a resurgence of the virus made recovery slow in other parts of the world. Western government stimulus measures, designed to help consumers, kept spending on goods, especially protective gear and work-from-home electronic products, resilient this year.
However, Mr. Li, the Standard Chartered economist, said foreign demand would eventually drop back, with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout expected to shift global consumption more toward service spending. To keep growth humming, China’s domestic demand will need to catch up and offset the pullback, he said.
China’s retail sales, a key gauge of consumer spending, rose 5.0% year over year in November, up from 4.3% in October. Still, it was lower than the 5.5% increase expected by surveyed economists, suggesting China has work to do to shore up growth longer term.
The Chinese Communist Party’s ruling Politburo said in a meeting last week that the government should keep economic growth within a reasonable range next year and work to boost domestic demand.
Analysts widely expected Beijing would normalize from this year’s expansionary stance by slowing credit growth and introducing a smaller fiscal stimulus package in 2021, but they also noted the pace would be gradual as officials have said they want to avoid a “policy cliff” that could derail the recovery.
Mr. Fu, the statistics bureau spokesman, said Tuesday that China needs more efforts to solidify its recovery momentum given the continuing impact of Covid-19 on global growth.
—Grace Zhu and Bingyan Wang contributed to this article.
Write to Josh Chin at [email protected]
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