China’s factory production plunged at the sharpest pace in three decades in the first two months of the year as the fast spreading coronavirus and strict containment severely disrupted the world’s second-largest economy.
Urban investment and retail sales also fell sharply and for the first time on record, fanning views China’s economy probably stalled or even shrank in the first quarter and that authorities would need to do more to resuscitate activity.
“Judging by the data, the shock to China’s economic activity from the coronavirus epidemic is greater than the global financial crisis,” said Zhang Yi, chief economist at Zhonghai Shengrong Capital Management.
“These data suggest a small contraction in the first-quarter economy is a high probability event. Government policies would need to be focused on preventing largescale bankruptcies and unemployment.”
Industrial output fell by a much largerthan-expected 13.5% in January-February from the same period a year earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Monday. That was the weakest reading since January 1990 when Reuters records started, and a sharp reversal of the 6.9% growth in December.
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