China's industrial production is expanding to the lowest rate since 2002

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Decline in China's manufacturing and consumer sectors deepened in August, with industrial output growing at the slowest pace of 17-1 / 2 years, a sign of growing weakness in an economy buoyed by headwinds and soft domestic demand.

Production rose 4.4% in August year-on-year, slower than 4.8% growth in July. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected production to rise 5.2%.

Growth is the slowest since February 2002.

Chinese government minister Li Keqiang said in an interview published ahead of the data Monday that it would "very difficult" for the economy to continue to grow by 6% or more, and that it faced "pressed down."

The data also showed retail sales growth of 7.5%, below the 7.9% expected in a Reuters poll and the 7.6% increase in July.

Fixed assets for the first eight months of the year rose 5.5%, according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics, compared with an increase in analysts' forecast of 5.6%.

Data last week showed factory gate prices fell at their fastest pace in three years, and analysts predict that producer deflation will continue to worsen in the coming months.

There is also a factory survey that showed that activity fell for the fourth straight month as the US trade war continued. China's imports of unprocessed copper also fell 3.8% from the previous year in August, a metal with widespread use in infrastructure, power and consumption.

China is in the midst of a more than one year long trade war. with the United States maintaining global supply chains. Trade dealers are expected to meet later this month, with a top-level summit to be held in Washington in October, though a resolution seems unlikely.

U.S. President Donald Trump had said he would raise a further 5% in late August tariffs on all Chinese goods imported to the United States for $ 550 billion.

To counteract the weakness, analysts expect the latest figures to lead to more cuts in government rates from the Chinese government. The government has said it will hold a relatively restrained hand.

China has already cut the amount of cash that banks are required to hold in reserve, a move that is expected to release 900 billion yuan ($ 1[ads1]26.35 billion) for lending to businesses in need of credit.

Private sector real estate investment, which accounts for around 60% of the country's total investment, grew 4.9% in January-August, compared to a 5.4% increase in the first seven months of 2019. [19659014]

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