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China Nov. industrial output growth abates

BEIJING -- Growth in China's industrial production slowed in November but retail sales expanded at a faster pace, official figures showed Tuesday, painting a mixed picture of the world's second-largest economy.

Industrial output, which measures production at factories, workshops and mines, rose 10.0 percent in November year-on-year, the National Bureau of Statistics announced.

That was a slowdown from the 10.3-percent expansion recorded in October, but matched the median forecast of 11 economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

Retail sales rose 13.7 percent in November from the year before — an acceleration from the 13.3 percent registered in October.

“Today's data could be either market-neutral or slightly positive,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists Lu Ting, Zhi Xiaojia and others wrote in a report.

They added the figures might raise expectations for stronger growth in the current fourth quarter, while “the structure of the economy seems to be improved towards consumption.”

Separately, an industry group announced Tuesday that auto sales in China, the world's largest car market, rose 14.1 percent year-on-year to a record high in November.

Citing solid demand for passenger vehicles, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement that a total of 2.04 million vehicles were sold in China last month.

The various November data followed publication of strong export and benign inflation figures for the month as China's economy — a driver of global and regional growth — shows signs of strength after a slump in the first half of the year.

Gross domestic product expanded 7.8 percent year-on-year in July-September, snapping a two-quarter slowdown, with data for the final three months of the year so far suggesting a steady outlook.

Figures on Monday showed inflation slowed to 3.0 percent in November, after two months of acceleration in consumer prices, well under the government's target for the year of 3.5 percent.

Also Tuesday the statistical bureau said fixed-asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 19.9 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2013.

That compared with an increase of 20.1 percent for the first 10 months.

Authorities are targeting overall economic growth this year of 7.5 percent, the same as the objective for 2012.

Speculation is increasingly focused on whether officials may lower it to 7 percent for 2014.

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