China May investment up, growth steadies in retail sales, factory output

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's fixed-asset investment grew more slowly than expected in May and at a rate not seen since year 2000, even as growth in retail sales and factory output steadied, arguing for Beijing to increase policy support to avert a deeper downturn.

Fixed-asset investment, a crucial driver of the world's second-largest economy, climbed 11.4 per cent in the first five months of this year from the year-earlier period, missing a Reuters poll forecast for a 12 per cent gain, the same as in April.

Factory output grew 6.1 per cent last month compared with the year-ago period, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday, slightly higher than analyst forecasts for a 6 percent rise and 5.9 percent in April.

Retail sales grew 10.1 per cent in May from the same time last year, in line with forecasts for 10.1 percent growth and compared with 10.0 per cent in April.

The disappointing investment data followed figures earlier this week that showed China's import growth had slumped more than expected last month. Persistent weakness in the economy will strengthen calls that policymakers must do more sooner rather than later to revive growth.