Jan 20, 2016

    China records slowest GDP growth in 25 years


    CHINA'S economy grew at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century last year, decelerating to expansion of 6.9 per cent.

    Growth in fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) eased to 6.8 per cent from a year earlier, down from 6.9 per cent in the third quarter, Reuters reported.

    For the first time, services made up more than half of the GDP last year, reported Agence France-Presse.

    The rise in services cushioned the slowdown and underpinned employment, reported Bloomberg.

    China's policy-making ability has shot to the top of global investors' risk lists for this year, after a renewed plunge in its stock markets and yuan currency heightened worries that the economy could be rapidly deteriorating.

    Weak exports, factory overcapacity, slowing investment, a soft property market and high debt levels are all compounding problems for the government as it attempts to transition from a centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented model.

    But there were no signs of a meltdown that some traders have feared.

    Zhang Yiping, an economist at China Merchants Securities, said the struggling property market was mostly to blame for the difficulties China is facing to boost performance.

    The China statistics bureau told a news conference that last year's growth had been "hard won", adding that the structural adjustment of the Chinese economy is at a crucial stage.

    Premier Li Keqiang said last month that the government would "take a knife" to loss-making zombie companies as parts of efforts to reduce overcapacity in the system.

    Other top priorities Beijing has announced for the year include shrinking a glut of unsold homes, deleveraging balance sheets, reducing costs for businesses and encouraging new technology.

    However, even if Beijing hikes spending and cuts interest rates again as widely expected, analysts expect that growth will cool further this year to 6.5 per cent.

    Some China watchers believe real growth levels are already much lower, noting output of electric power and steel fell for the first time in decades last year, while rail freight also dropped.