The downward pressure on China’s consumption persisted over the Lunar New Year holiday, the annual festival when people travel, shop, and give gifts or money.
People in China spent 1.01 trillion yuan ($149 billion) at restaurants, shopping malls and online outlets over the the week-long holiday, according to the Ministry of Commerce. That was 8.5 percent higher than during last year’s festive period, but the slowest increase since at least 2011.
Increasingly frugal Chinese consumers are sending chills through global investors, with the pullback in spending hitting the profits of companies such as Apple Inc., Swatch Group AG and luxury car makers. Weaker growth, the trade war with the U.S., and a crackdown on debt all undercut momentum in 2018, sending auto purchases into contraction for the first time in almost three decades and retail sales growth to the slowest pace since 2002.
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