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China's industrial output rose 8.6 percent in January and February year-on-year, official data showed Thursday, the worst result in nearly five years and raising alarm bells over the world's second-largest economy. The statistics covered a two-month period due to China's Lunar New year holiday week, which fell in both months. Zhou Hao, Shanghai-based economist for ANZ bank, called the data "a complete mess" and said it showed that policies were needed to spur growth. A Wall Street Journal survey of 13 economists yielded a median forecast of a 9.5 percent increase in industrial output and 13.5 percent for retail sales.
A major explosion caused by a gas leak flattened two Manhattan apartment buildings in a fireball killing at least four people and injuring 63 others. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the incident "a tragedy of the worst kind" and his office said nine residents from the two collapsed buildings were still unaccounted for by nightfall.