China Oct factory output up 7.7%, below expectations

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's industrial output rose 7.7 per cent in October from a year earlier, below market expectations, while retail sales climbed 11.5 per cent, slightly lower than forecasts, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday.

Fixed-asset investment, an important driver of economic activity, grew 15.9 per cent in the first 10 months of the year from the same period last year, in line with forecasts.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast industrial output to rise 8.0 per cent and retail sales to rise 11.6 per cent, both unchanged from their pace in September.

Fixed-asset investment for the January-October period was seen up 15.9 per cent, down from 16.1 pe rcent in September.

Weighed down by a cooling property market, faltering domestic demand and a credit crunch that is squeezing smaller companies, China's annual economic growth slowed to 7.3 per cent in the third quarter, the weakest pace since the global financial crisis.

Many analysts believe additional stimulus measures may be needed to offset the drag from the housing market, on top of a raft of steps announced earlier in the year, but they are divided over whether authorities will take more forceful action such as cutting interest rates unless there is a risk of a sharper slowdown.

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