By Xinhua writers Li Baojie, Wang Xiuqiong
BEIJING, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- China's industrial output in August grew at slowest pace in 18 months because of weaker exports and Olympics.
The growth decelerated for a second straight month to 12.8 percent in August over the same month last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on Friday. The rate was down from 14.7 percent in July and 17.5 percent last August.
"The slower pace was mainly attributed to the shutdowns and production cuts of polluting companies during the Olympic Games," said Song Guoqing, professor with the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University. "It doesn't represent a trend."
Previous slowest monthly rate was 12.6 percent in February 2007when a large number of businesses closed during the Chinese lunar new year holiday.
From January to August, the industrial output was up 15.7 percent, off from 16.1 percent in the first 7 months and 18.4 percent in the same period last year.
Local industrial companies found a little harder to sell products due to weakening demands for Chinese exports amid global economic slowdown.
Their production-sales ratio was 97.75 percent in August, 0.81 percentage points lower over last August. Last month, overseas shipments grew 21.1 percent, down from 26.9 percent in July.
Experts said the government might be shifting focus gradually from taming inflation to boosting economy as growth in exports and industrial output slowed while the consumer price index in August was the lowest in 14 months.
"We could expect more adjustments to the tight monetary policy," Song told Xinhua. "The easing in August inflation gave more room for loosening macro-control measures."
"Figures on exports, industrial output and investment in August showed the economy was still heading down. High attention should be paid to sustaining economic growth," said Zhang Liqun, researcher with the Development and Research Center of the State Council.
"The government would timely adjust the macro-economic control measures as the situation changes."
The investment in factories, roads and other fixed assets in Chinese urban areas rose 27.4 percent from January to August.
"The rate in nominal terms was acceptable and even showed a sign of accelerating," said Zhang Xiaojing, an economist with the China Academy of Social Sciences. "But when considering the high investment price index, the real growth was lower than a year earlier."
The Chinese government has already started to loosen monetary and fiscal policies amid worries a slow economic growth would cost jobs and trigger complaints.
Among the latest economic boost measures were higher tax rebates for textile and garments exports, more credit quotas for banks to lend more to farmers and small and medium-sized firms, and scrapping of administrative fees for small private businesses.
In the slowdown in industrial output growth, the power equipment producers were the most resilient, while the electricity and heating sector were the most fragile.
Last month, the power equipment producers posted the fastest growth of 17.9 percent, followed by 15.7 percent in the industry of telecom, computer and other electronics.
The electricity and heating producers and suppliers reported the slowest pace of 8.2 percent, while the textile industry saw output rise 8.9 percent.
Output of coal jumped 12.1 percent to 220 million tons in August. Production of crude oil was up 1.6 percent to 16.03 million tons and that of electricity up 5.1 percent to 316.1 billion kilowatt.