June 28, 2015 / 1:54 AM / 4 years ago

China's May industrial profits edge up 0.6 percent on year

An employee works at a steel factory in Dalian, Liaoning province, in this January 19, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/China Daily/Files

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s industrial profits edged up 0.6 percent in May from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday, slowing from a 2.6 percent rise in April and adding to pressures on the government to step up policy stimulus to support growth.

The bureau said industrial firms still faced weak demand and falling prices, although recent interest rate cuts helped lower costs. April’s rise in profits had been the first since last September.

For the first five months of 2015, industrial profits were down 0.8 percent from a year earlier. Industrial firms made combined profits of 2.25 trillion yuan ($362.44 billion) in the January to May period, including 520.7 billion yuan for May.

Profits in the mining sector fell 59.8 percent in the first five months from a year earlier, while earnings of crude oil and natural gas producers tumbled 69.5 percent.

Profits of chemical firms rose 12.6 percent and those of makers of computers and telecommunications equipment rose 24.3 percent, the bureau said.

Industrial firms’ interest payments rose 2.4 percent in the first five months from a year earlier - the lowest pace in two years, the bureau said.

The central bank cut lending rates on Saturday for the fourth time since November and trimmed the amount of cash that some banks must hold as reserves, stepping up efforts to support an economy headed for its poorest performance in a quarter of a century.

The government is due to release second-quarter GDP data on July 15 and many economists expect growth to dip below 7 percent, which would be the weakest performance since the depths of the global financial crisis.

($1=6.2080 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Paul Tait and Clarence Fernandez

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