“In May, our economy gradually overcame the adverse impact of the pandemic,” NBS spokesman Fu Linghui said at a news briefing.

“But we also have to see that the international environment has become more complex and severe, and the domestic economic recovery still faces many difficulties and challenges.”

It was the third straight month of contraction in retail sales, according to official data, suggesting nervous consumers are tightening their purse strings with the persistent threat of lockdowns.

Industrial production was up 0.7 per cent after falling 2.9 per cent in April, while the urban unemployment rate ticked down to 5.9 per cent.

Shanghai, China’s most populous city, started emerging from a gruelling two-month lockdown in June, providing a boost to economic sentiment.

But observers remain cautious in part due to a sharp contraction in the property sector and the Chinese government’s reluctance to transition away from zero-Covid.

“We would view this as only a respite, rather than a turning point,” Nomura analysts said in a recent report.

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