China January-February steel output rises from December on strong margins
17 March, 2019, 02:31 | Author: Regina Silva
The figures from the National Bureau of Statistics come as Beijing and Washington appear to be nearing a deal to resolve their painful trade spat, and Chinese leaders convene in the capital for an annual parliamentary session.
China's normally steady unemployment rate rose to 5.3% in February, from 4.9% in December, with the NBS saying it had expected worse numbers.
China's manufacturers are facing weaker sales at home and overseas, with exports hit by US tariffs on Chinese goods and cooling global demand.
But the rate of growth remains stuck around 15-year lows, highlighting concerns that consumers are growing less confident as the economy slows.
The NBS does not release individual monthly investment data for January or February but combines them to account for the seasonal distortions from the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, which typically falls in either month.
China's refiners processed 102.49 million tonnes of crude oil during January and February, according to the data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The real estate market has shown signs of fatigue in recent months in the face of persistent government curbs on speculative investment, as Beijing is seeking to reduce debt risks in the financial system.
Fixed-asset investment rose 6.1% in the first two months, from 5.9% in 2018.
Beijing-China's industrial output slowed during the first two months of the year as unemployment rose, official data showed Thursday, while some indicators showed a slowdown in the world's second largest economy stabilizing.
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.
China's economic growth cooled to 6.6 percent a year ago, the slowest in almost three decades, and it is expected to lose more momentum in the next few months.
Beijing has tried to restart spending. The pressure on unemployment could also be due to the ongoing trade war between the USA and China.
The production pick-up followed a rise in profit margins at steel mills over January and February, with earnings from making construction product rebar jumping more than 20 percent from December, according to data tracked by Jinrui Futures.
The two sides have exchanged tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, and China's exports and imports plummeted much more than expected in February.
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