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China’s factory, consumer activity weakens

BEIJING (AP) – China’s consumer and factory activity weakened in May and record-breaking unemployment among young people in cities rose as an economic rebound following the end of anti-virus controls slowed.

Surveys found 20.8 per cent of potential workers in cities aged 16-24 were unemployed, up from April’s previous record of 20.4 per cent, the government reported yesterday.

China’s economic activity rebounded after the ruling Communist Party in December lifted controls that cut off access to major cities for weeks at a time and blocked most international travel. But consumers, uneasy about possible job losses, returned to shops and restaurants less quickly than expected.

Economic growth accelerated to 4.5 per cent over a year earlier in the three months ending in March from the previous quarter’s 2.9 per cent.

Growth will have to accelerate in coming quarters to hit the ruling party’s annual target of “around five per cent”.

“The data published today suggest that the reopening recovery had largely fizzled out by May,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report.

Retail sales rose 12.7 per cent over a year earlier, but that was down from April’s 18.4 per cent, which was barely half the rate expected by forecasters.

Growth in factory output decelerated to 3.5 per cent from the previous month’s 5.6 per cent.