China's major industrial firms recorded slowed profit growth in the first nine months of this year, but their efficiency improved with higher profitability and lower costs, data showed Saturday.
Industrial profits rose 14.7 percent year on year to 4.97 trillion yuan (about 715.3 billion U.S. dollars) in the first nine months, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. That was down from a rise of 16.2 percent in January-August.
Profits in 34 of the 41 sectors surveyed rose compared with one year earlier, unchanged from that in the January-August period.
In September, combined profits at industrial firms with annual revenue of more than 20 million yuan rose 4.1 percent year on year to 545.5 billion yuan. The pace of growth slowed from 9.2 percent in August.
The slowdown in September was mainly driven by a pullback in the growth of industrial production and product prices as well as a high comparative base from last year, NBS official He Ping said.
According to the NBS, the steel, construction materials, oil and chemicals sectors, which contributed 72.4 percent to the overall industrial profit increase, posted strong profit growth in the first nine months.
Although industrial profits rose at a slower pace, He said industrial companies' operating costs and leverage ratios both fell, while their profitability continued to improve.
During the January-September period, costs per 100 yuan of revenue dropped 0.29 yuan from the same period last year to 84.31 yuan. The debt-asset ratios of major industrial firms had dropped 0.4 percentage points from a year ago to 56.7 percent by the end of September.
Saturday's data was the latest in a slew of economic indicators that showed China's economy remains resilient despite growing external uncertainties.
Earlier data showed growth in fixed-asset investment, retail sales and freight traffic all picked up last month, pointing to a firming real economy.
The country's economy expanded 6.7 percent year on year in the first nine months, above the target of around 6.5 percent set for 2018.