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Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 07:27 GMT
China's retail sales pick up pace
Jewellery exhibition in China
Conspicuous consumption is helping put a bling in China's boom
China's retail sales have grown at their fastest pace in five months during October, driven by demand for clothes, cosmetics and computers.

Sales jumped 14.2% in October from a year earlier, topping market estimates and the 14% climb seen in September.

Rising wages are helping stoke consumer demand at a time when the government is trying to rebalance the economy and ensure that its boom is sustainable.

Analysts say domestic demand will be key to ensuring that growth continues.

"It is crucially important that China keeps consumption and exports growing fast," said Dong Tao, an economist at Credit Suisse First Boston.

Hot market

Foreign companies such as the US's Wal-Mart and France's Carrefour have opened stores in China and are planning on increasing their presence in one of the world's biggest and fastest growing markets.

According to the national statistical office, sales of food, clothes and household merchandise all rose more than 18% in October.

Car sales increased by 2.1%, while sales of jewellery and precious metal sales jumped 25%.

A separate report showed that consumer price growth was moderating.

Prices in October climbed by 4.2% from a year earlier, the slowest rate of increase in six months.

With increasing concern that China's economy was heading for trouble following spectacular growth, the government has limited investment and lending, and last month raised interest rates for the first time in nine years.

China is the world's seventh biggest economy and has been one of its fastest growing in recent years.

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