BEIJING (REUTERS) – Profits at China’s industrial firms grew sharply in March from a low base a year ago, as demand for raw materials surged along with the economic recovery, but the pace of growth slowed, official data showed on Tuesday (April 27).
Profits rose to 711.18 billion yuan (S$145.5 billion) in March, up 92.3 per cent from a year ago, when the economy was hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.
The pace of growth slowed from the first two months of the year. Profits grew 179 per cent in January-February compared with the same period in 2020, when coronavirus restrictions disrupted economic activity.
Strong profits in raw materials manufacturing and processing industries, in particular chemicals, metals and petroleum, helped drive overall industrial profit growth as demand picked up, said Zhu Hong, an official at the NBS in a statement.
Industrial firms’ profits rose to 1.825 trillion yuan in the January-March period, up 137 per cent from a year ago and 50.2 per cent from same period in 2019, according to the NBS. That brought the two-year average growth to 22.6 per cent, it said.
China’s gross domestic product quickened sharply in the first quarter and posted a record growth of 18.3 per cent, driven by stronger demand at home and abroad.
However, the data undershot the 19 per cent forecast by economists in a Reuters poll, and analysts expect the brisk expansion, heavily skewed by the virus-related plunge in activity a year earlier, to moderate later this year.
China’s exports rose sharply in March and imports posted their highest surge in four years last month, with factory activity rising at a faster-than-expected pace.
Many analysts, however, believe China’s export growth could lose some momentum as other countries’ production recovers from pandemic-related disruptions.
Liabilities at industrial firms were up 9.0 per cent year-on-year at end-March, versus 9.4 per cent growth as of end-February.
The industrial profit data covers large firms with annual revenues of over 20 million yuan from their main operations.
The figures combine data for January and February to exclude distortions caused by the week-long Lunar New Year, which fell in February in 2021.