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China July factory output rises 6.4 pct, investment up 8.3 pct, both miss forecasts

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BEIJING, Aug 14 (Reuters) - China's factory output grew 6.4 percent in July from a year earlier, while fixed-asset investment expanded 8.3 percent in the first seven months, both below economists' forecasts.

Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted factory output growth of 7.2 percent in July, easing from 7.6 percent in June.

Fixed-asset investment had been forecast to grow 8.6 percent over the first seven months, the same pace as in January-June.

Retail sales rose 10.4 percent in July from a year earlier, cooling from June's 11 percent pace and also failing to meet analysts' expectations for a 10.8 percent rise.

Growth of private investment slowed to 6.9 percent in January-July from 7.2 percent in the first half of the year, suggesting small and medium-sized private firms still face challenges in accessing financing.

Private investment accounts for about 60 percent of overall investment in China.

China is targeting growth of around 9 percent in fixed asset investment for 2017, and expects retail sales to increase about 10 percent.

China is targeting annual economic growth of around 6.5 percent this year, down from the 6.7 percent pace clocked in 2016.

Economists say Beijing will handily meet its 2017 growth target after stronger-than-expected growth of 6.9 percent in the first half of the year.

But most China watchers expect activity will slow slightly in coming months due to higher financing costs and government measures to cool the country's heated property market. (Reporting by Elias Glenn and Lusha Zhang; Editing by Kim Coghill)