UPDATE 1-China Jan-Feb power output growth slowest in a year

Fri Mar 9, 2012 2:39am EST

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* Daily generation lowest since November

* Slowing economic activity weighs (Adds details, background)

BEIJING, March 9 (Reuters) - China's power generation increased 7.1 percent from a year earlier in the January-February period, government data showed on Friday, the slowest growth rate in a year and indicating a cooling economy was curbing power demand.

Electricity output totaled 718.7 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in the two-month period, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Power output in the January-February period was 11.98 billion kWh on a daily basis, the lowest since November, according to Reuters calculations.

The slower growth rate and consumption suggested power demand was responding to slowing economic activity in the world's second-largest economy.

Growth in China's factory output in January to February fell to 11.4 percent, below the consensus forecast of 12.3 percent, as slower demand at home and abroad undermined production growth to its weakest since July 2009, when the world was still shuddering from the global financial crisis.

The statistics bureau said power generation surged 20.6 percent on the year to 370.17 billion kWh in February. It did not provide January output data.

Based on the above figures and earlier data from the bureau, January power output fell 5.1 percent from a year earlier to 348.56 billion kWh, Reuters calculations showed.

A comparison of combined output in January and February with a year earlier was a better gauge than the year-on-year change for each month because the Lunar New Year was in January this year while it was in February last year.

Many factories and businesses are closed for the holidays.

By generating sources, thermal power output in the first two months gained 6.8 percent on year but hydropower generation declined 1.1 percent, according to data from the bureau. (Reporting by Jim Bai and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Ed Davies)

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