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China seeks to ease fears over health of economy

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BEIJING China's top statistics official yesterday sought to allay concerns over the health of the world's second largest economy and defended the integrity of its data.

The comments came days ahead of China's release of key readings on industrial output, retail sales and investment.

China's trade data last month showed the biggest drop in exports in three years while imports fell for the third straight month, and forward-looking indicators such as factory orders have pointed to further weakness ahead.


But analysts noted that the timing of the Chinese New Year holidays early in the year may have distorted the trend.

Mr Ning Jizhe, head of China's National Bureau of Statistics, said since the start of March, imports and exports have grown more than 20 per cent.

"According to part of the statistics already known, China's economic operation in January to February generally showed an improving trend, and overall production improved," said Mr Ning.

"Excluding the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) factor, the total value of imports and exports increased 10.2 per cent year on year, of which exports rose 7.8 per cent and imports gained 12.9 per cent."

Mr Ning's bureau is due to release a slew of data tomorrow including industrial output.

Industrial production growth is expected to slow to 5.5 per cent from the same two-month period a year earlier, compared with 5.7 per cent in December, according to a Reuters poll.- REUTERS