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China Factory Profit Surges 12% in First Quarter

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China's industrial profits grew 12.1 percent in the first quarter this year from a year ago, official data showed on Saturday.

Chinese industrial firms made total profits of 1.17 trillion yuan ($189.78 billion) in the first three months, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement on its website (www.stats.gov.cn).

In March, profits were 464.9 billion yuan, up 5.3 percent from the same month last year, it said.

Profit growth began showing signs of resurgence in December, gaining 17.3 percent year-on-year. That followed several tepid months that restrained overall profit growth to a modest 5.3 percent year-on-year in 2012 to a total of 5.6 trillion yuan.

Among 41 sectors surveyed by the NBS, 29 reported rising profits in the first three months, while nine reported shrinking profits. Two sectors reported turnarounds in profitability and one reported a shrinking loss.

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The ferrous metal smelting and rolling industry reported a 3.3-fold increase in profits during the period, while profits in the electricity and heat production and supply industry leapt 90.5 percent, the statistics bureau said in a report.

Profits for manufacturers of computers, telecoms gear and electronics were up 36.8 percent from the same period last year, while those in auto manufacturing rose 10.6 percent, agriculture and food production were up 9.9 percent, general equipment up 8.5 percent and the chemical sector increased 7.2 percent.

On the downside, profits in coal mining dropped 40.3 percent while those in ferrous metal mining were down 5.2 percent and oil and gas exploration were off 4.5 percent during the same period, the report said.

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China's economy has snapped out of a seven-quarter long slowdown and started to pick up from the last quarter of 2012 as it regains internal strength on the back of Beijing's pro-growth policies. Annual economic growth slowed to 7.8 percent last year, the weakest showing since 1999.

A Reuters poll of economists showed expectations that factory activity in April probably expanded at its fasted pace in 12 months, shoring up expectations that China's economic recovery is stabilizing.

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