Several “robot arms” work on the final automated assembly line of wheel hubs at a production workshop in Anqing city, Anhui province, China, 9 December 2022.

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BEIJING – China on Thursday reported economic data that missed expectations across the board in a month in which widespread Covid restrictions weighed on growth.

Retail sales fell by 5.9% in November from a year ago, the Office for National Statistics said.

That was a bigger-than-expected 3.7% decline and a bigger-than-expected 0.5% year-on-year decline in October, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

Industrial production rose 2.2% from a year earlier in November, beating a Reuters forecast of a 3.6% increase. The reported pace was also lower than the 5% increase in October.

Fixed asset investment slowed to 5.3% year-on-year growth in the year to November, missing Reuters’ expectations for a 5.6% increase. Official publication also fell from 5.8% growth in the first 10 months of the year.

In November, the pace of infrastructure investment increased year-on-year from October, while manufacturing slowed slightly. Real estate investment has fallen sharply amid the industry’s ongoing downturn.

In November, the urban unemployment rate reached 5.7%. The unemployment rate for youth aged 16 to 24 remains at over 17.1 percent.

The decline in retail sales was 0.1% lower than in the first 11 months of last year.

Food and medicine were the only sub-categories to see sales growth in November from a year ago, the statistics office said. Clothing and footwear sales were down 15.6 percent.

Online sales of physical goods rose just 4% in November, down significantly from the previous month, according to CNBC data from Wind Data.

Wipe covid will change

Over the past two weeks, China has unveiled a number of Covid-related restrictions that have hampered domestic travel and business. Authorities emphasized vaccinations for the elderly, and encouraged covid patients to recover at home.

To make matters worse, at least in Beijing, a significant proportion of the population succumbed to the disease in the sub-freezing climate.

A day before the data was released, China’s National Bureau of Statistics canceled an in-person press conference for Thursday without explanation.

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