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June 29, 2020

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COVID-19 slashes industrial profits

PROFITS of China’s major industrial firms dropped 19.3 percent year on year in the first five months of 2020 due to COVID-19, official data showed yesterday.

Profits of industrial companies with annual revenue of more than 20 million yuan (US$2.8 million) totaled 1.84 trillion yuan between January and May, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The contraction narrowed from the 27.4-percent decline in the first four months.

Profits in 10 of the 41 industrial sectors surveyed logged year-on-year increases, while 30 sectors saw their profits fall, according to the NBS.

Profits of the mining and manufacturing industries fell 43.6 percent and 16.6 percent year on year, while that of the production and supply of electricity, thermal power, gas and water reported a year-on-year decrease of 16.7 percent.

The aggregate profits of the computing, telecommunications and other electronic equipment manufacturing sectors rose 34.7 percent from a year ago.

That of agricultural and sideline products processing as well as special-purpose equipment manufacturing increased by 19 percent and 16.6 percent.

Profits of state-owned industrial firms dropped 39.3 percent from a year earlier.

Profits of private companies fell 11 percent.

In May alone, industrial profits went up 6 percent from same period last year, compared with a 4.3-percent decrease registered in April.

Efficiency of major industrial firms continued to improve in May as the restoration of work and production progresses, NBS statistician Zhu Hong said.

Zhu attributed the rebound in industrial profits last month to factors including eased pressure on costs, prices changes of industrial products and the profit improvement in key industries such as petroleum processing, electricity and steel.

Increasing investment returns last month also contributed to the improvement, Zhu added.

However, market demand remains weak due to the COVID-19 impact, Zhu said, noting that the sustainability of the industrial profits growth awaits further observation.

Earlier data showed China’s economic activities continued to normalize as the industrial output, retail sales and investment reported across-the-board improvements.

But the recovery still faces uncertainties and challenges from the global spread of the novel coronavirus.

The industrial sector was among the quickest to rebound from the impact of the virus with the value-added industrial output up 4.4 percent year on year in May, extending the rebound and up 0.5 percentage points from April.


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