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China FDI data indicates sharp slowdown in February

A man walks out of a subway station as he talk on the phone at the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos B
A man walks out of a subway station as he talk on the phone at the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos B

BEIJING (Reuters) - China drew $19.3 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first two months of 2014, up 10.4 percent from a year earlier, the Commerce Ministry said on Tuesday, indicating a sharp slowdown in February due to the Lunar New Year holidays.

Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told a media briefing that the ministry did not release data for February alone due to seasonal distortions caused by the Lunar New Year holidays, when factories, offices and shops often close for long periods.

Based on the published data, FDI in February alone was $8.6 billion, up 4.1 percent from a year earlier, slowing sharply from a 16.1 percent increase in January.

FDI from the top 10 Asian economies rose 11.6 percent in the first two months to $16.9 billion, while investment from the United States jumped 43.3 percent to $711 million and investment from the European Union fell 13.8 percent to $1.1 billion, the ministry said.

"Despite weak international investment and the fact that we face various problems in our development, the FDI data shows that foreign investors are still very confident," Shen said.

Shen said that it is normal to see greater two-way fluctuations in the yuan and that the government will still keep the yuan basically stable, echoing recent central bank comments.

On Saturday, the People's Bank of China doubled the yuan's daily trading range, so that it can now rise or fall 2 percent around the daily midpoint rate.

China's exports could be affected by global uncertainties this year, Shen said without giving details. The government aims for 7.5 percent annual growth in foreign trade this year.

The government has shifted its focus on attracting FDI inflows to high-end manufacturing, a modern services sector and energy-saving and environmental industries, while encouraging local companies to quicken investment overseas.

China's service sectors received $10.6 billion in FDI in the first two months, up 25.5 percent from a year earlier and accounting for 54.9 percent of the total, the ministry said.

Outbound direct investment by Chinese firms totaled $11.54 billion in the January-February period, down 37.2 percent from a year earlier, it added.

The sharp drop was due to a high comparison base caused by offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC's <0883.HK> $15 billion acquisition of Nexen in early 2013, Shen said.

(Reporting By Xiaoyi Shao and Kevin Yao; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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