China April industrial profits up 14 percent but slowing pace stokes economy worries

Profits earned by Chinese industrial firms rose 14.0 percent in April from a year earlier, official data showed on Saturday, slowing from March’s pace and adding to concerns that the world’s second-largest economy may be losing steam.

Profits in April rose to 572.78 billion yuan ($83.59 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on its website.

Profits had surged 23.8 percent in March over the same month of last year. For the first fourth months of the year, profits reached 2.28 trillion yuan, up 24.4 percent from the same period last year and compared with a growth of 28.3 percent in the first quarter.

After a roaring start to the year, industrial earnings had been expected to soften in April as prices of iron ore, steel and other commodities fell sharply, and as growth in factory output, investment and retail sales tapered off.

A building boom, fueled by a government infrastructure spree and a heated housing market, has boosted demand and prices for materials from steel to cement, giving China’s long ailing “smokestack” industries more cashflow to chip away at a mountain of debt.

“Slowing growth of China’s industrial profits is reasonable considering the fast growth experienced earlier this year,” stats bureau official He Ping said in a statement accompanying the data, adding that profits remained strong.

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