The pace of growth in China's value-added industrial output rose 18.1% in May from a year earlier, faster than expected, the Wall Street Journal reported. The increase was higher than the 17.4% gain in April and came as a surprise to economists who were expecting a continued slowdown after peaks of 18.5% in January and February. "Before the new data, I thought the rate hike wasn't needed until the third quarter," said Shen Minggao, an economist at Citigroup in Beijing. "Now I've changed my mind a bit – the chance of a rate hike this month has increased." The State Council raised expectations of a rate tightening Wednesday. Fixed-asset investment data is scheduled for release today. Most economists expect a slight slowdown in the January-May period from the 25.5% recorded for the first four months of the year.