BEIJING (AP) -- The rapid growth in China's industrial output slowed slightly in April following severe winter storms, according to data released Wednesday.
April's output was up 15.7 percent from the same month last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That was down from March's 17.8 percent growth and the 17.4 percent rate for April 2007.
The economy was shaken in January and February after China's heaviest snowstorms in decades hit the south, wrecking crops and paralyzing shipping.
China also is suffering from weaker demand for its exports in the United States and other key markets. The government is trying to reduce reliance on exports by encouraging domestic consumer spending, which is growing strongly.
Economists say China's rapid growth should slow this year following last year's 11.4 percent expansion. The World Bank is forecasting full-year growth of 9.4 percent.
Consumer spending grew by 22 percent in April, according to the government.