BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s industrial output rose at a faster-than-expected rate of 7.3% in December from a year ago, data showed on Monday, expanding for the ninth straight month as the vast manufacturing sector, aided by strong exports, continues its post-COVID recovery.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected annual industrial output growth to have eased to 6.9% in December from 7.0% in November.

China’s retail sales edged up 4.6% last month from a year earlier, missing analysts’ forecast for 5.5% growth, in contrast to 5.0% growth in November.

Fixed asset investment increased 2.9% in 2020 on year, compared with a forecast 3.2% increase and a 2.5% growth in the first 11 months of the year.

Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Colin Qian; Editing by Shri Navaratnam