China factory output flat, retail sales slip in July

Residents pass by a shopping mall in Beijing on Aug. 4, 2020. China's factory output rose just under 5% last month from a year earlier while retail sales fell slightly, suggesting the country's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic remains muted. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Residents pass by a shopping mall in Beijing on Aug. 4, 2020. China's factory output rose just under 5% last month from a year earlier while retail sales fell slightly, suggesting the country's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic remains muted. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BEIJING – China's factory output rose just under 5% last month from a year earlier while retail sales fell slightly, suggesting the country's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic remains muted.

The data reported on Friday show that despite a rebound in Chinese exports, domestic demand in the world's second-largest economy is still lackluster.

Massive flooding across much of the south of the country also has hurt both production and consumer demand, though it pushed food prices sharply higher. Pork prices jumped nearly 86%, the report said.

Such “idiosyncrasies" don't fully account for the prolonged weakness in consumer spending, said Stephen Innes of AxiCorp.

“Still, the glaring concerns around retail demand continue to speak volumes that it’s going to take more than stimulus and deep discounts on luxury products to get people shopping again," he said in a report.

The 4.8% increase in industrial output from a year earlier was on a par with the month before and slightly below forecasts of just over 5%.

China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first economy to start the struggle to revive normal business activity in March after declaring the virus under control. Manufacturing is recovering, but consumer spending is weak.

Many Chinese either lost their jobs or some income, or are are worried they might.