China’s economic data released on Thursday shows that retail sales and factory output missed expectations in November as widespread COVID infections surged across the country.

Reuters cited official data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, reporting that the country’s retail sales dropped by 5.9% in November from a year earlier. 

The figure is below Reuters’ expectations of a 3.7% decline, compared with a 0.5% year-on-year drop in October, the most significant monthly reduction in six months since Shanghai’s lockdown in May. 

Its industrial production increased 2.2% in November, slowing from the 5% rise in October, missing the forecast from Reuters for a 3.6% increase for the month.

Julian Evans-Pritchard at Capital Economics told Nikkei Asia, “The disruption from virus outbreaks intensified in November, with retail sales, investment spending, and industrial output all contracting by the most month-on-month since the Shanghai lockdown.” 

Real estate investment has fallen by 9.8% from January to November as the sector took a hit from a 26.6% drop in total residential and commercial building sales. 

According to Reuters calculations, real estate investment fell 19.9% from a year ago, the fastest pace over the two decades amid the ongoing property market crisis.

As soaring infections hit the country, the disappointing data comes as Beijing shifts away from its controversial “zero-COVID” policy. 

CNBC reported that a day before the release of official data, China’s National Bureau of Statistics canceled its Thursday press conference without an explanation.

In November, China’s exports and imports contracted at much lower-than-expected levels. As a result, its exports shrank by 8.7% yearly, while imports fell by 10.6% as domestic demand weakened.

On Tuesday, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned to lower China’s growth forecast for this year and 2023. In October, the IMF cut the country’s economic growth projection to 3.2% for 2022 with a 4.4% GDP growth forecast for 2023.

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