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In other data, retail sales expanded 10.7 percent in April on year, a slight slowdown from March's increase.

In March, China's natural gas production rose to a record 13.6 billion cubic meters (480.3 billion cubic feet), up 10.5 percent over March a year ago, as economic growth spurred more power use in the industrial sector.

Fixed-asset investment excluding rural areas rose 8.9 percent in the first four months of the year, compared with 9.2 percent in the January to March period.

Fixed-asset investment grew 8.9% in the first four months of this year, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted factory output would grow by 7.1 percent in April, easing from March's 7.6 percent.

Yesterday's data showed investment in property development picked up last month, although sales growth was significantly slower, suggesting investment in the sector remained robust even as intensified controls take effect.

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The pace of investment growth accelerated from 9.1 percent in the first quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday.

"Against the backdrop of the ongoing financial regulatory tightening, we may see a "soft-patch" of economic data in the next couple of months amidst reduced inflationary expectations and rising risk premium", investment firm China International Capital Corporation said in a research note.

The spotlight has been on China after several weaker-than-expected data in recent weeks raised concerns that the world's second largest economy is losing steam. Growth in inventory floor area in the first four months was 7.2 percent lower than one year earlier, compared with a fall of 6.4 percent in the January-to-March period.

Housing sales growth eased its pace. Infrastructure investment and property investment, however, reported solid growth, increasing 23.3% y/y (ytd) and 9.3% y/y, respectively.

The country's first quarter economic growth came in at a faster-than-expected 6.9 percent, the quickest since 2015 on higher government infrastructure spending and a gravity-defying property boom.

"China seems to have returned to an investment-driven growth strategy".


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