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Chinese statistics body holds back Q1 data amid corruption probe

China's National Bureau of Statistics will not releasefirst-quarter production data for several commodities as the country'scorruption watchdog, the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection, or CCDI,is probing the illegal sale of state statistics by government officials,Reuters reported May 3.

The news follows sacking of the bureau's head Wang Baoan inlate February after becoming the subject of a probe. CCDI is charging some 313officials for selling state data for personal gains as the "individualswere not permitted to receive any royalties, editorial fees or labor fees"for the data releases.

The non-availability of data will make it difficult foranalysts and economists to ascertain local demand as the government grappleswith an economic slowdown. The unreleased data included quarterly and monthlyproduction figures for base metals, as well as oil, coal, steel and powergeneration.

According to Barclays Capital analyst Miswin Mahesh,"It would mean that import data and ship tracking will have to pay alarger role, although it would still not be able to give a good estimate forlocal demand, given China is now also a net exporter of refined products."

However, the bureau has released first-quarter productionfigures for gasoline, diesel and kerosene after long delays, the report said.

An official at the bureau told Reuters that though thesuspension was temporary, the illegal disclosures would probably lead torestrictions on public disclosures.

The measure has affected news agencies as well as localconsultancies such as Mysteel, Antaike and ICIS, according to the report.