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Mobile phone, furniture, car sales boost consumer spending
( 2003-12-16 01:31) (China Daily)

China's retail sales rose 9.7 per cent in November compared with a year ago, as consumers increased spending on larger items such as mobile phones, furniture and cars.

Retail sales, an important propeller for the country's economy, grew a year-on-year 8.9 per cent during the first 11 months of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics revealed yesterday.

November's growth slowed from 10.2 per cent over the previous month -- the fastest pace in two years.

Furniture sales, which have been fuelled by a home-buying spree, jumped more than 43 per cent in November from a year ago, the bureau said.

Car sales rose 42.8 per cent in November, while the sales of telecommunication equipment rose 39.1 per cent.

Qi Jingmei, a senior economist with the State Information Centre, said the relatively good retail sales situation suggests consumers' purchasing power, which was held back by the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak, is starting to rise.

"This is good for China's economy, because consumption demand is expected to contribute 41.4 per cent to the year's economic growth,'' she said.

The Chinese economy grew a year-on-year 8.5 per cent during the first three quarters of 2003.

Statistics bureau Deputy Commissioner Qiu Xiaohua said the country's economy will grow at least 8.5 per cent for the whole of the year.

Qiu said he is confident the economy will grow at more than 7 per cent in the coming decades.

"Market forces have begun to add fuel to the government-led economy,'' he said.

Along with the deepening of the nation's reform, the market vitality will become stronger, Qiu said.

The micro-base for the current economic development has also been improving, as entrepreneurs and consumers are showing increased confidence in the future, he said.

The economy's new growth areas resulted from the continued expansion of structural adjustment, Qiu said.

The formation of the Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and Bohai economic zones, the revitalization of the old industrial base in Northeast China, and the further development of the high-tech industry and service sectors will all inject new vigour into future economic development, he said.

Zhang Liqun, a senior researcher with the State Council's Development Research Centre, said a higher growth rate for the economy in the coming decades is achievable.

He said the country's solid development foundation formed by reforms, the comprehensive effects unleashed in a bid to expand domestic demand and the central government's ability to control the overall economy will push growth.

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