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Trade and food services sales see record growth in January

TAIPEI--The sales of Taiwan's trade and food services sectors grew year-on-year for the fifth consecutive month in January to the third highest monthly level in history, according to government statistics released Monday.

Combined January sales for the retail and wholesale trade and food and beverage services totaled NT$1.24 trillion (US$40.9 billion), 2.1 percent higher than in January 2012, Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) statistics showed.

The figure was higher than for any other month in history except for October and December 2013.

Retail sales rose 6.4 percent in January from a year earlier to NT$355.1 billion and food and beverage sales surged 11.8 percent to NT$36.3 billion because of higher demand created ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which began on Jan. 29 or 30 for most people in Taiwan.

Wholesale sales remained relatively flat in January, however, because the positive seasonal effects were offset by fewer workdays during the month and declines in demand for gold and television sets, the MOEA said.

Concurrently, the Lunar New Year holiday and slow season effects made industrial production shrink in January, official statistics showed Monday, bringing to an end four straight months of growth.

The index fell 1.78 percent year-on-year to 100.91, according to the MOEA, which linked the decline to a slowdown in business activity as companies and stores shut down for the holiday, which began the end of January.

Prior to that month, industrial output had grown every month since September.

In the manufacturing sector, three straight months of gains also ended as the January production index slipped 1.93 percent annually.

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