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China's power consumption slows on weak factory activity

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BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- China's power consumption growth slowed further in July, as the country's factory activity and industrial output posted weaker growth amid the economic downturn, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said Tuesday.

The nation's total electricity consumption grew only 4.5 percent from a year earlier to 455.6 billion kWh, the NEA said in a statement on its website.

The July data brought electricity consumption in the first seven months to 2.83 trillion kWh, up 5.4 percent year on year, easing further from the 5.5 percent seen in the first half of this year, according to the NEA data.

In breakdown, power consumed by the agriculture sector dipped 0.4 percent year on year to 58.9 billion kWh, while electricity consumed by the industrial and manufacturing sector added 3.6 percent year on year to 2.1 trillion kWh.

But the service industry and residential power consumption expanded much faster than that of the agriculture and industrial sectors during the period, showed the NEA data.

Electricity consumption by the service sector increased 11.9 percent year on year to reach 319.3 billion kWh, while residential electricity use amounted to 356.9 billion kWh, up 12.5 percent from a year earlier.

In the January-July period, China added 28.92 million kilowatts in new power-generating capacity nationwide, 6 million kilowatts of which was created by hydropower projects and 17.9 million kilowatts by thermal power plants.

The weak power consumption was mainly dragged down by a surprise industrial output slowdown in July.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, China's industrial value-added output marked the slowest growth since May 2009 by expanding 9.2 percent year on year in July, 0.3 percentage point below June's 9.5 percent.

Economists had widely expected industrial activity to pick up in July, as the government has adopted a string of measures to stabilize growth, including slashing interest rates twice, once in June and again in July.

The manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI), which measures the country's factory activity, eased to 50.1 percent in July, the slowest pace in eight months, according to survey results published by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing earlier this month.

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