BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s industrial output fell a less steeper-than-expected 1.1% in March from a year earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Friday, as the coronavirus crisis and strict containment measures severely disrupted the world’s second-largest economy.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected industrial output to fall by 7.3% in March, moderating somewhat after plunging 13.5% in the first two months of the year.
Retail sales dived 15.8% in March, worse than analysts’ expectations for a 10% drop. They had tumbled 20.5% in the first two months as authorities locked down much of the country, consumers shunned crowded places and many shops and restaurants closed.
Fixed asset investment dropped 16.1% in January-March, worse than a forecast 15.1% drop. The gauge had sunk 24.5% in the first two months, the first contraction on record.
Private sector fixed-asset investment, which accounts for 60% of the country’s total investment, declined 18.8% in the first quarter of this year, compared with a 26.4% fall in January-February.
While China has largely brought the virus outbreak under control, officials are worried about a possible second wave of infections and analysts warn it could take months before the economy recovers to normal levels.
Reporting by Gabriel Crossley, Judy Hua and Stella Qiu; Editing by Shri Navaratnam