China state-owned firms' profits down 8.4% in Jan-April

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's state-owned firms'profits fell 8.4 per cent year-on-year in the first four months of this year, the finance ministry said.

Total profits at state firms were 652.26 billion yuan (S$137.29 billion) from Jan-April, while revenues fell 1.7 per cent to 13.52 trillion yuan. In the first three months of the year, profits fell 13.8 per cent.

Coal, steel and nonferrous metals companies posted losses in the first four months of the year while profits at oil, chemical and building material companies fell from a year earlier, the ministry said in the statement posted on its website on Tuesday.

Transportation, petrochemical and pharmaceutical companies posted relatively large profit increases.

Profits at centrally-administered companies fell 6.6 per cent in the first four months from a year earlier, while earnings at local government firms fell 14.2 per cent.

Total debts of state-owned companies increased 18 per cent to 81.91 trillion with debts of centrally-administered companies up 23.4 per cent and local state firms up 12.2 per cent.

Reforms of sprawling state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to improve efficiency are a priority for China's leaders as growth slows in the world's second-largest economy, and were a key plank in the country's latest five-year plan announced in 2015.