UPDATE 1-China power output rises for fourth month on economy, weather
(Adds comment, coal prices)
SHANGHAI, Sept 10 (Reuters) - China's power output climbed for a fourth month in August, official data showed on Tuesday, posting the second-highest monthly growth this year as a searing summer and increased economic activity boosted demand.
Power production and consumption have been steadily rising since May, as the economy stabilises after a prolonged slowdown.
China's industrial output growth beat forecasts in August, with positive trade data over the weekend cementing expectations that the world's second-largest economy is finding its feet, helped by targeted government measures aimed at lifting growth.
Electricity output was 498.7 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in August, up 4.02 percent from July and 13.4 percent from a year ago, the National Statistical Bureau said. Total production growth in the first eight months of 2013 was 6.4 percent.
Thermal power accounts for nearly 80 percent of China's total generation, but despite improved electricity consumption local steam coal prices have continued to fall as major coal producers slash prices to gain market share.
Chinese coal prices have fallen 17 percent so far this year to 540 yuan ($88.22) per tonne last week, according to the Bohai-Bay Rim Steam Coal index.
A firmer economy could help stem further price falls, industry sources said, as inventories at major power plants have already declined to about 15 days. However, few expect prices to stage a sizeable rebound amid an oversupplied market.
"Even though the smaller mines have halted or cut production, the large producers are increasing output and cutting prices to boost sales. Cheap imports will also pressure local prices," said a Shanghai-based trader.
China's power consumption is expected to rise by 5 to 7 percent in the second half, compared with growth of 5.1 percent in the first six months of 2013, the China Electric Council said in July. (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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