Retail sales up 15.5% in April

Updated: 2007-05-15 11:08

China's retail sales grew 15.5 percent in April from a year earlier as rising incomes and a stock market boom encouraged the world's most populous nation to spend.

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Sales climbed to 667.3 billion yuan ($86.8 billion) after gaining 15.3 percent in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said today. That was the biggest increase since May 2004 if the first two months of each year are combined to eliminate Lunar New Year holiday distortions.

Premier Wen Jiabao is trying to boost consumption to make China less dependent on exports and investment for growth. The world's fourth-largest economy grew 11.1 percent in the first quarter and the benchmark CSI 300 Index of stocks has soared more than 80 percent this year.

"This is encouraging," said Sun Mingchun, an economist at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in Hong Kong. "But it's too early to say whether it can be sustained, because part of the increase was supported by the stock market."

The gain beat the 15.1 percent median estimate of 19 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. For the first four months, sales increased 15.1 percent from the same period last year to 2.8 trillion yuan.

Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings Ltd., China's biggest electronics retailer, said profit surged 75 percent in the first quarter. Tsingtao Brewery Co., part-owned by Anheuser-Busch Cos., posted an 18 percent increase in net income.

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