People wear protective masks as they walk in a shopping street following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID 19) in a historic part of Beijing, China, 30 July 2020.
People wear protective masks as they walk in a shopping street following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID 19) in a historic part of Beijing, China, 30 July 2020. Reuters

China’s retail sales continued a general recovery in October, official data showed Monday, on the back of a national holiday and policies aimed at boosting spending.

Although China has largely brought the coronavirus under control, spending has been slower to recover as the world still grapples with the impact of the pandemic.

Retail sales in the world’s second-largest economy rose 4.3 per cent on-year last month, Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Monday.

At a press briefing, spokesman Fu Linghui said the pandemic “has dealt a second blow to countries” including the United States and those in Europe, and that global recovery had “further stalled” as a result.

“The domestic economy is still in recovery, with multiple challenges to be conquered before a full recovery,” Fu added.

While the retail figure is lower than the five percent growth expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg, it still continued an upward trend as spenders gradually began to open their wallets again, particularly around the week-long national holiday in October.

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Catering sector revenue growth turned positive for the first time this year, the NBS said.

Research firm Oxford Economics said China’s recovery is on a “reasonably firm footing and will continue in the fourth quarter”.

Industrial production growth in October remained the same as the month before, but continued to rise more than expected at 6.9 percent.

A strong rebound in exports could have helped industrial output, said Rajiv Biswas, Apac chief economist at IHS Markit, adding that there was also potential for a pre-Christmas boost.

Meanwhile, the urban unemployment rate—a key concern with a large number of graduates entering the market this year after the pandemic hit—fell to 5.3 percent in October.

The NBS added that over 10 million new urban jobs have been created this year, meeting China’s annual target ahead of schedule, although analysts have cautioned the real unemployment figure could be higher.

But Nomura’s chief China economist Lu Ting warned Monday that headwinds remain, with the possibility of some social virus restrictions extending into spring 2021 and earlier pent-up demand losing steam.

“Rising US-China tensions could dent China’s exports and manufacturing investment,” he added.

At a forum last week, China’s ex-finance minister Lou Jiwei suggested trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies could continue even under the administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

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