* Power generation rises as economy grows
* June output rises 3.7 pct from month before (Adds detail)
SHANGHAI, July 15 (Reuters) - Chinese power generation grew 5.7 percent in June from a year earlier, government data showed on Wednesday, keeping pace with a broader economic recovery after a sharp deceleration in factory activity earlier in the year.
Headline data showed China’s economy grew 7.5 percent between April and June from a year earlier, slightly above expectations and quickening from the 7.4 percent pace in the first quarter, reinforcing hopes that a recovery is under way after a flurry of government stimulus measures.
Power output in the world’s top consumer was 458.1 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in June, data from the National Statistical Bureau showed, up 3.7 percent from 441.6 billion kWh in May.
Power generation in the first six months of 2014 rose 5.8 percent from a year ago to 2.62 trillion kWh, data showed, with a 9.7 percent growth in hydroelectric output far outpacing thermal power, which rose just 4.7 percent in the first-half.
China’s battle against pollution, which has seen the government impose cuts in coal consumption targets in several major cities, has hit its coal sector hard.
Benchmark coal prices on the Bohai-Bay Index for coal with an energy value of 5,500 kcal/kg have fallen nearly 19 percent this year to stand at 513 yuan ($82.62) a tonne this week, its lowest in more than six years.
Total profits for large and medium-sized coal miners fell 42 percent on the year to 24.7 billion yuan ($4 billion) in the first four months of 2014, while the amount owed to miners also climbed to 150 billion yuan amid a slowing economy, according to a report by the China Coal Association in June.
The slump in coal prices has, however, benefited many power companies, with Huaneng Power International , China’s SDIC Power Holdings and China New Energy Power Group posting a jump in profits.
The China Electric Council in February forecast power consumption growth will slow to around 7 percent in 2014, compared with a 7.5 percent rise in 2013.
Other data released alongside the gross domestic product (GDP) report on Wednesday showed factory output rose 9.2 percent in June from a year ago, beating expectations for a 9.0 percent increase. ($1 = 6.2088 Chinese Yuan) (Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Richard Pullin and Joseph Radford)