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Tuesday, January 20, 2015, 10:33

Economic growth edges to 24-year low of 7.4%

By Chen Jia
Economic growth edges to 24-year low of 7.4%

China's 2014 economic growth edged down to a 24-year low of 7.4 percent from 7.7 percent in 2013, the first time that it missed the government's annual target in 16 years, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics released on Tuesday.

Fixed asset investment, which used to be the strongest driving force of the economy, may slip to 15.7 percent year-on-year in 2014, a decline from the 20 percent growth in 2012 and 2013. Industrial production growth is likely to decelerate to 8.3 percent in 2014 from 9.7 percent in 2013, and retail sales may expand by 12 percent in 2014 compared with 13.1 in 2013.

The Consumer Prices Index, a main gauge of inflation, eased to 2 percent last year, compared with 2.6 percent in 2013.

Premier Li Keqiang set the economic growth target at 7.5 percent in March of 2014. The target for CPI was at 3.5 percent.

The uninspiring picture has been expected by experts, who believe that it may not trigger aggressive policy stimulates as the top leadership has tolerated a "new normal" development rate.

Wang Jun, a senior economist at the China Center for International Educational Exchange, a government think tank, said that "micro stimulation" instead of a strong policy package will continue to stabilize growth.

"Signs have shown that economic structure is improving and the slowdown is still under control," he said.

Chang Jian, at economist in China at Barclays Capital, said that moderation may continue in inflation, trade, industrial activities and investment growth, while bank lending will likely stay high, supported by short-term loan and bill financing.

A report from the Standard Chartered Bank forecast that the central bank may cut the benchmark interest rates by 25 basis points in the first quarter this year to support stable economic growth.

 
 
 
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