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China's fixed-asset investment growth at slowest in 18 years

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- China's fixed-asset investment, a major growth driver of the world's second-largest economy, expanded at its slowest pace in about 18 years in the first eight months of this year, official data showed Thursday.

    The category increased 7.8 percent over the same period in 2016, down from 8.3 percent in the first seven months of this year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

    The increase of 7.8 percent is the slowest since the full year of 1999, when it marked a 6.3 percent rise.

    The cooling reflects the government's efforts to roll back stimulus measures as the Chinese economy grew 6.9 percent in the first half, well above this year's target of around 6.5 percent.

    The government has been emphasizing a reduction of excess capacity and minimizing financial stability risks, ahead of the Communist Party's twice-a-decade congress in mid-October.

    In the first eight months of 2017, China's fixed-asset investment by state-owned entities, which includes huge spending on infrastructure, rose 11.2 percent, down from 11.7 percent in the Jan.-July period, while growth of private investment slowed to 6.4 percent, compared with 6.9 percent in the months through July, according to the data.

    Other key figures were sluggish as well. Real estate investment in China in the first eight months grew 7.9 percent from the same period a year earlier, unchanged from the previous seven months.

    On a monthly basis, industrial output grew 6 percent in August from a year earlier, down from 6.4 percent in July.

    Growth in retail sales also slowed to 10.1 percent in August from a year before, down from 10.4 percent in the previous month.

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