China's retail sales were up 13.6% in April from a year earlier to US$72.15 billion, after gaining 13.5% in March, according to National Bureau of Statistics figures released on Monday. It is the fastest growth rate in a year after peaking at 17.8% in May 2004 before cooling in line with government introduced curbs on lending and investment. Since then, Premier Wen Jiabao has cut taxes and raised minimum wages in a bid to encourage consumer spending and make economic growth less tilted toward investment and exports. Per capita disposable income in towns and cities increased by 10.8% in the first quarter, and rural income by 11.5%. January to April retail sales rose 13% from a year earlier to US$302 billion. Gome, China's largest home-appliance retailer, last week said sales jumped 68%.
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