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Retail sales take a jump

SHANGHAI'S retail sales rose, fixed-asset investment grew and consumer prices dropped in April, providing a few rays of hope after recent reports of declining exports.

The Shanghai Statistics Bureau said that the city's retail sales advanced 13.8 percent from a year earlier to 40.5 billion yuan (US$5.9 billion) last month, up from an increase of 11.9 percent in March.

Fixed-asset investment rose 4.1 percent year on year to 125.5 billion yuan in the January-April period. In April alone, investment jumped 10.6 percent, powered by government spending, which marked a 14.2 percent increase.

The Consumer Price Index, the main gauge of inflation, declined for the third straight month in April, falling 1.4 percent, compared with a 0.4 percent drop in March and a 0.2 percent ebb in February. Though analysts usually worry that declining CPI indicates a deflationary trend, the latest figure was viewed by some economists as a sign that lower costs may trigger future spending.

Li Maoyu, analyst at Changjiang Securities Co pointed out yesterday that retail sales did, in fact, go up. Li also said the April decline in CPI was not a large one and that the inflation base in the year-ago period was high.

"The figures provided fresh evidence that Shanghai's economy may bounce back in the second half of this year," said Wang Zehua, a statistics bureau analyst.

Last Monday, Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng said the city's economy was on the road to recovery and forecast that industrial production would start to pick up again in June.


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