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Profits at China’s industrial firms grew robustly in November for a seventh month of gains, supported by strong industrial production and sales as manufacturers continue their recovery from the COVID-19 downturn.

Profits at Chinese industrial firms rose 15.5 per cent from a year earlier to 729.32-billion yuan (US$111.5-billion), easing from October’s three-year high of 28.2 per cent, data from National Bureau of Statistics showed on Sunday.

China’s industrial sector has seen a strong rebound from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, aided by a stunning export comeback as factories ramp up to meet demand overseas. Factory-gate prices, a gauge for profitability, fell less than expected last month.

The pullback of growth in November was mainly owing to a higher base a year earlier, said Zhu Hong, a senior statistician at the statistics bureau. “Profits at some traditional industries have showed improvement. With the approach of heating season, demand for thermal coal has risen and prices have increased, leading to an accelerated recovery in the coal sector.”

Coal industry profits rose 9.1 per cent in November, the first increase this year.

“Industrial profits are expected to maintain double-digit growth over the next few months, driven by low base effects, domestic economic recovery, improvements in overseas demand and the rebound in commodity prices benefiting the upstream sector,” said analyst Zhou Maohua at China Everbright Bank.

For the January-November period, industrial firms’ profits rose 2.4 per cent from a year earlier, accelerating from the 0.7-per-cent gain recorded for the first 10 months.

Earnings at China’s state-owned industrial firms were down 4.9 per cent for January-November, narrowing from the 7.5-per-cent decline in the first 10 months.

Private sector profits grew 1.8 per cent in the January-November period, up from 1.1 per cent in January-October.

The industrial profit data cover large firms with annual revenue of over 20-million yuan from their main operations.