m3n4.net January 19, 2019

China's local government debt growth nearly doubles in 2017

18 January 2018, 01:32 | Vera Richards

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China's economy had a pretty great 2017

Retail sales on the other hand slowed down, with the year-on-year rate of growth decliing from 10.2% for November to 9.4% in December. That topped analysts' forecast for 6.7 percent growth in the quarter from the same period a year ago, according to a poll of economists by Reuters.

"China's growth is very healthy", said Iris Pang, a Hong Kong-based Greater China economist at ING.

For the year, retail sales rose 10.2 percent, compared to 10.4 percent growth in 2016.

According to official figures from China's National Bureau of Statistics, 61 out of the 70 cities surveyed saw prices increases on a yearly basis.

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The economy is in the process of rebalancing away from the investment-heavy and export-dependent model that brought four decades of breakneck economic growth but left China heavily in debt.

With fixed asset-investment growth at the weakest pace since 1999, exports helped pick up the slack.

The expected moderation, still within Beijing's comfort zone given its annual growth target of around 6.5 percent, comes on the back of a cooling property sector, pollution curbs that have hit factory activity and a rise in corporate funding costs.

Fixed-asset investment excluding rural households, a key driver of domestic demand, was up 7.2% previous year, the weakest growth since 1999's 6.3%, NBS data showed.

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Some analysts said they had expected the pork output number to be higher, given prices fell by around 20 percent during the year and imports also dropped. Solid exports have been a boon for Chinese policymakers.

But many analysts are skeptical about whether China's economy will continue to expand at the same pace as in 2017, given that Xi's government has imposed more steps aimed at restraining the overheated housing market and protecting the environment.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is considering several unilateral tariff actions on steel, aluminum and China's intellectual property practices likely to draw disputes from WTO members.

The world's second-largest economy has been fighting debt for years as it tries to balance economic stability against the potential fallout from any sharp deceleration. "I think growth will be 6.6 to 6.7 per cent", said Wang Jun, chief economist at Zhongyuan Bank in Beijing.

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"Indeed, we expect growth to average a mere 4.5 per cent this year, though investors will probably need to look beyond the official GDP figures for evidence of this".

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