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China factory output rise offers hope for COVID rebound

Retail sales fall 6.7% as virus curbs weigh on purchases

China's retail sales have been hit hard by COVID-19 lockdowns in major cities, including Shanghai, which kept many stores closed for weeks or even months.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- China's economic picture appears to have brightened after a string of data published Wednesday, including an unexpected rise in factory output, pointed to a modest rebound from punishing COVID-19 lockdowns.

But consumer spending and the key property market remain weak while business confidence has plunged as Beijing vows to press on with draconian virus policies that threaten to derail efforts to hit an official 5.5% economic growth target this year.

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