May 13, 2008
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Chinese retail sales up sharply on food, jewellery and cars

May 13, 2008

BEIJING, May 13, 2008 (AFP) - Chinese retail sales surged 22 percent in April from a year earlier to 814.2 billion yuan (116 billion US dollars) on a rise in food, jewellery and auto sales, officials said Tuesday May 13th.

Photo : Robyn Beck/AFP

The National Bureau of Statistics said the figures, a main measure of consumer spending in Asia's second-largest economy, resulted in retail sales in the first four months gaining 21 percent.

Zhang Liqun, an economist from the Development Research Center of the State Council, or the cabinet, said April retail sales represent an increase of 6.5 percentage points year-on-year.

This included the inflation factor, which stood at 5.5 percentage points higher, resulting in real growth of only one percentage point year-on-year if the inflation factor was deducted, Zhang said.

As a result, Zhang said price rises were stable in general.

Retail sales of consumer goods in urban areas rose 22.9 percent to 555.9 billion yuan, while retail sales of consumer goods at county level or below totalled 258.3 billion yuan, up 20.1 percent.

Retail sales of food and cooking oils were up 36.3 percent, followed by meat and eggs which gained 30.8 percent. Jewellery made of gold, silver and precious stone rose 41.0 percent and automobile sales gained 25.7 percent.

China's central bank Monday raised the reserve requirement ratio for commercial banks by 0.5 of a percentage point to a new high of 16.5 percent as of May 20 in a bid to rein in inflation.

China has hiked interest rates six times and the reserve requirement ratio 14 times since last year to curb inflation and prevent economic overheating.

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