* China Aug power consumption +8.3 pct y/y
* Jan-Aug power consumption +4.2 pct y/y
* Thermal power production growth turned positive, rising 7.7 pct y/y (Adds details on the breakdown, significance on the broader economy)
BEIJING, Sept 14 (Reuters) - China’s power consumption in August rose 8.3 percent from a year ago because of increased cooling demand due to high temperatures, the country’s economic planner said on Wednesday during a briefing.
China’s power consumption reached 563.1 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) in August, said Zhao Chenxin, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
Average temperatures in August were the highest since 1961 and were a main factor in the percentage hike in power usage, said Zhao. He also noted that August 2015 power consumption grew by only 1.9 percent from the prior period, exaggerating the gain for this year.
Service industry and residential electricity consumption recorded the biggest rises as a result of the heat, at 15.5 percent and 19.9 percent respectively, Zhao said.
More specifically, power consumption from information transmission, IT service, and the software industry rose 15 percent, while financial and property service usage rose 12.3 percent in August.
For shops, hotels and restaurants, power consumption also enjoyed a 9.3 percent growth.
Power consumption totalled 3.89 trillion kwh in the first eight months of 2016, up 4.2 percent from the same period last year.
A surge in power consumption supports the view that better-than-expected manufacturing and construction activities gave the economy a boost in August, as the result of a government infrastructure spending spree and housing boom.
Secondary industry power consumption grew 2 percent in the January to August period, reversing a negative growth rate from the same period last year, the NDRC said.
China’s manufacturing sector unexpectedly expanded in August, with the official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rising to 50.4, the fastest pace in nearly two years.
Monthly imports in August also unexpectedly rose for the first time in nearly two years and industrial output increased at the fastest rate in fives years.
The rapid rise in August power consumption reversed the recent negative growth in thermal power production, with power generated from coal and natural gas rising 7.7 percent from a year ago in August, the NRDC’s Zhao said.
Hydropower output climbed 5.8 percent while nuclear power production increased 20.1 percent during August.
The NDRC also approved 25 fixed-asset investment projects in August with a total value of 196.6 billion yuan ($29.48 billion), which are mainly transportation, water conservancy and energy projects, Zhao said. ($1 = 6.6700 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Yawen Chen and Kevin Yao; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)