People visit the renovated East Nanjing Road Walkway in East China”s Shanghai, Sept 12, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING- China’s economic recovery continued to gather steam with major economic indicators further improving last month as the country’s efforts to boost growth amid the COVID-19 slowdown gradually paid off.

Retail sales of consumer goods, a main gauge of China’s consumption, returned to growth for the first time this year, rising 0.5 percent year on year in August, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The measurement of consumption fell 1.1 percent in July.

Industrial output increased 5.6 percent year on year in August, accelerating from the rise of 4.8 percent registered in July. In the first eight months, industrial output expanded 0.4 percent from one year earlier, compared with a decline of 0.4 percent in the January-July period, NBS data showed.

Fixed-asset investment edged down 0.3 percent year on year in the first eight months, further narrowing from a fall of 1.6 percent posted in the January-July period.

Private sector fixed-asset investment, which accounts for more than half of total investment, fell 2.8 percent in the January-August period, compared with a decline of 5.7 percent in the first seven months.

Employment remained stable as the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas stood at 5.6 percent in August, 0.1 percentage points lower than that of July.

Meanwhile, the country’s exports in August rose at a faster-than-expected pace, increasing 11.6 percent year on year, though imports edged down 0.5 percent from one year earlier.

NBS spokesperson Fu Linghui said despite pressures from both the COVID-19 fallout and floods, the country’s economy has sustained a steady recovery.

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The rebound in major indicators in August came as the economy extended its recovery, but Fu said the growth of some indicators still lagged behind their 2019 levels.

The country’s economic growth is likely to post “an evident acceleration” in the third quarter if recovery momentum continues in September, Fu said.

The country’s GDP expanded 3.2 percent year on year in the second quarter, reversing from a contraction of 6.8 percent in the first quarter.

To shore up the economy against the shock of COVID-19, the government has rolled out a raft of measures, including more fiscal spending, tax relief, and cuts in lending rates and banks’ reserve requirements to revive the coronavirus-ravaged economy and support employment.

Global credit rating agency Moody’s has raised its growth forecast for the Chinese economy this year to 1.9 percent from 1 percent earlier, representing the firm’s only upward revision for the 2020 growth of major economies.

Looking ahead, Fu warned about challenges from home and abroad, saying current economic recovery remained unbalanced and there were still unstable and uncertain factors from the external environment.

Wen Bin, chief analyst at China Minsheng Bank, said in a research note that macro-economic policies should continue to strengthen the recovery, enhancing support to major sectors and weak links.

Via China Daily