Industrial Output Continues To Surge In China

SHANGHAI, China (AP) - China's main benchmark of industrial output rose 17.9 percent in May from a year earlier, the government reported Wednesday, in the latest release of higher-than-expected economic data.

May's industrial output totaled 706 billion yuan ($88.2 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics reported. It said industrial output rose 17 percent in the January-May period from a year ago.

China's economy grew 10.3 percent in the first three months of the year, boosted by strong growth in bank lending and surging exports. The government has raised interest rates and sought to restrain bank lending for investment in industries thought to be overheated - so far without much sign of success.

Forecasts for May had put growth in industrial output at below 17 percent.

Auto production rose 28.4 percent in May from a year earlier to 620,000 units, up from 21 percent growth in April. Pig iron output rose 23 percent, crude steel 19.6 percent and steel products 27 percent, the bureau said.

Manufacturing remains ''very, very robust,'' Tan Hui, an economist with Standard Chartered Bank said, noting worries over excess production in some industries, such as autos and steel.

Meanwhile, data released Wednesday showed that property prices in 70 major Chinese cities rose 5.8 percent in May from a year earlier.

The fastest growth was in the northeastern city of Dalian, where residential prices climbed 15.2 percent from a year earlier, the National Development and Reform Commission reported.

Next in line was Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, where prices rose 13.7 percent, followed by the northern city of Hohhot, where prices climbed 11.4 percent, it said.

The government recently enacted measures aimed at preventing property prices from spiraling higher and encouraging construction of affordable housing, instead of luxury apartment blocks and villas.

Prices in Shanghai, where such measures were implemented more than a year ago, saw real estate prices fall 6.2 percent year-on-year in May, the commission said.

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