China Jan-Feb steel output rises from December on strong margins

Chinese Slowdown Deepens: Industrial Output at 17-Year Low

"The statistics bureau publishes combined data for the first two months of the year in order to iron out seasonal volatility caused by annual shifts in the timing of Chinese New Year", Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, said. Most analysts believe activity may not convincingly stabilize until the middle of the year.

Growth in the world's second-biggest economy slumped to near three-decade lows last year hit by the tariff row with the United States and Beijing's multi-year crackdown on debt.

In January and February vehicle sales continued to fall and manufacturing activity sunk.

New home prices in China grew at their slowest pace in 10 months in February in sign of slackening demand as the economy cools further, leaving authorities walking a tight rope between loosening some existing curbs and flushing out speculators.

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was in no rush to complete a trade pact with China and insisted that any deal include protection for intellectual property, a major sticking point between the two sides during months of negotiations.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted industrial output growth would slow to 5.5 percent in January-February from December's 5.7 percent gain.

Benchmark rebar prices on the Shanghai Futures Exchange have climbed 10 percent in the past two months and hit a peak of 3,908 yuan ($582.82) a tonne on February 11, the highest level since late August.

Fixed-asset investment rose 6.1% in the first two months, from 5.9% in 2018.

Private sector fixed-asset investment also lost a step, rising 7.5 percent versus an increase of 8.7 percent in 2018. The agency failed to provide monthly breakdowns of the output because of the week-long celebration of the Lunar New Year Holiday in early February.

Data on Thursday showed China's property investment quickened in the January-February period driven by strong demand in smaller cities.

Thursday's data showed sales of appliances and furniture softened considerably early in the year, possibly linked to worries about the cooling property market and a 3.6 percent drop in home sales.

In the January to February period, exports stood at 2.4 trillion yuan, while imports were 2.1 trillion yuan. This year's GDP growth target was set between 6 and 6.5 percent, according to the Government Work Report.

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