China's economic growth accelerated for the first time in two years in the fourth quarter underpinned by robust industrial output and investment, latest figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed Friday.
Despite the rebound in the final quarter, the growth rate for the full-year of 2012 sank to a 13-year low as prolonged crisis in euro area and weak demand for developed nations in general dampened the country's exports.
The gross domestic product grew 7.9 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, snapping seven successive quarters of slowdown. Economists had expected a 7.8 percent gain. In the third quarter, GDP expanded 7.4 percent, the weakest pace in three years.
GDP grew 7.8 percent in 2012, the weakest growth rate since 1999. This was down from 9.3 percent in 2011, but slightly faster than forecast of 7.7 percent expansion. The government had earlier set a growth target of 7.5 percent for 2012.
The statistical office also reported that industrial production grew 10.3 percent year-on-year in December, accelerating from a 10.1 percent rise in November. Economists had forecast a 10.2 percent increase.
Retail sales grew 15.2 percent annually in December, faster than the 14.9 percent expansion in the previous month. This was expected to record a growth rate of 15.1 percent.
China's urban fixed asset investment in the 12 months through December increased 20.6 percent compared to the previous year, the statistical office said today. This was roughly in line with economists' forecast for an increase of 20.7 percent.
The NBS also released monthly house price data for 70 cities in the country. Prices of newly built homes increased in 54 of the 70 cities surveyed month-on-month. This was up from 53 cities which recorded an increase in November.
Year-on-year, 40 cities reported a rise in prices, more than 25 in the previous month.
On average, China has recorded close to 10 percent annual growth for more than 30 years, according to the World Bank. However, measures to curb a potential property price bubble and weakening demand for exports from Europe began to hurt growth in early 2011.
China unveiled a number of stimulus measures last year, including large spending on infrastructure projects such as railways and roads, to revive the economy.
Despite the slowdown, the People's Bank of China has held off further monetary easing since July last year due to inflation concerns. In December, inflation climbed to a seven-year high of 2.5 percent as freezing weather and approaching Lunar New Year pushed up food costs.
The World Bank said Wednesday that the Chinese economy is likely to rebound in 2013, growing 8.4 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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