|A salesman sells meat at an agricultural market in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, July 13, 2012. China's economy expanded 7.6 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2012, slowing from 8.1 percent in the first quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday. (Xinhua/Li Hualiang)
BEIJING, July 13 (Xinhua) -- China's economy expanded 7.6 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2012, slowing from 8.1 percent in the first quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Friday.
The figure, which marked the sixth consecutive quarter of decline, revealed the slowest growth pace since the first quarter of 2009 and was within market expectation of below 8 percent.
On a quarterly basis, the country's economy grew 1.8 percent in the second quarter, NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun said at a press conference.
According to preliminary statistics, the country's GDP grew 7.8 percent year-on-year to reach 22.71 trillion yuan (3.6 trillion U.S. dollars) during the first half, Sheng said.
"We should not be too obsessed with an 8-percent economic growth. Generally speaking, China's economy has run smoothly during the first half," he said.
Although the economic growth rate continued to slow in the second quarter, it was "rather good" compared with developed nations and other emerging economies, Sheng noted.
Given the sluggish external market and global economic woes, China lowered its full-year growth target for 2012 to 7.5 percent in early March, after its economy grew 9.2 percent in 2011 from the previous year.
"The weakening GDP growth was mainly due to falling fixed-asset investment, difficult operations in domestic small and medium-sized enterprises and slackened external demand," said Wang Jun, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchange.
The GDP data headlined a flurry of indicators published on Friday signalling that the world's second-largest economy is slowing, boosting investor expectations of continued policy action to support growth.
Sheng reiterated the government's top priority of stabilizing growth as the country faces increasing downward pressure.
"The government will give higher priority to stabilizing growth, and continue to strengthen and improve macro-control to promote the steady and relatively fast economic growth," the spokesman said.
Other indicators published Friday showed first-half industrial value-added output rose 10.5 percent year-on-year, down from 11.6-percent increase seen in the first quarter.
Retail sales increased 14.4 percent from one year earlier in the first half, slower than the 14.8-percent growth registered in the first quarter.
Fixed-asset investment, one of the principal drivers of China's economy, grew 20.4 percent year-on-year to 15.07 trillion yuan. The growth rate moderated by 0.5 percentage point compared to that in the first quarter, and was down 5.2 percentage points from the same period last year.
Although acknowledging that property market regulation has dragged on China's economy, Sheng stressed the government will not relax its curbs on the sector for the sake of more sustainable economic development.
"Real estate regulation will effectively prevent asset bubbles from hurting the country's long-term economic growth," Sheng said, pledging to further improve regulation measures during the rest of the year.
Official data showed that investment in the property sector, which directly accounts for about 13 percent of gross domestic product, rose 16.6 percent year-on-year in the first half, down from 32.9 percent last year.
Sheng is upbeat about China's economic prospects, saying "the country's still undergoing a rapid process of industrialization, urbanization, marketization and internationalization, which will unleash huge investment and consumption potential to bolster the economy."
The spokesman also dismissed concerns over deflation, as money supply has not fallen dramatically. M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, increased 13.6 percent year-on-year during the first half, according to central bank data.
Friday's GDP data came as the country's inflation eased to a 29-month low of 2.2 percent in June, leaving the government ample room to introduce more pro-growth measures to boost the slowing economy.
"As inflation moderated, I think there should be more policy relaxation to add to growth domestically and offset weakness in exports," said Zhang Liqun, a researcher from the Development Research Center of the State Council.
The country has been steadily loosening fiscal and monetary policies. Last week, the central bank announced surprise cuts in the benchmark interest rates for the second time in a month this year to stabilize growth.
The central bank has also cut the reserve requirement ratio -- the amount of cash banks are required to hold as reserves -- three times since November, to bolster the economy.
Liu Ligang, an economist with the ANZ National Bank Limited, foresaw the central bank will slash the reserve requirement ratio three times in the rest of the year, with the first one likely this month.
Liu said China will increase investment in public housing, railway and infrastructure construction in the second half, as Premier Wen Jiabao said earlier this month that stabilizing investment currently plays a key role in expanding domestic demand and maintaining growth.
The country will also likely increase issuance of treasury bonds and local government bonds during the rest of the year, prompting the central bank to further ease monetary policies to inject liquidity into the economy, Liu said.
China's inflation eases to 29-month low
BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhua) -- China's Consumer Price Index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, has eased to a 29-month low weighed down by falling food prices, leaving the government ample room to introduce more pro-growth measures to boost the slowing economy.
The CPI grew 2.2 percent year on year in June, the slowest pace since January 2010, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on Monday. Full story
China's PPI down 2.1% in June
BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhua) -- China's Producer Price Index (PPI), a main gauge of inflation at the wholesale level, fell 2.1 percent in June from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on Monday.
It fell deeper than May's 1.4 percent, and marked another month of year-on-year decline after the PPI saw a drop in March for the first time since December 2009. Full story
China's June export growth slows to 11.3 pct
BEIJING, July 10 (Xinhua) -- China's exports rose 11.3 percent year on year to 180.21 billion U.S. dollars in June, slowing from the 15.3-percent spurt in May, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said on Tuesday.
Imports increased 6.3 percent to 148.48 billion U.S. dollars, compared with a growth of 12.7 percent a month earlier. Full story
China's new loans surge in June, raising inflation concerns
BEIJING, July 12 (Xinhua) -- China's new yuan-denominated loans surged in June as the government moved to buoy the slowing economy, raising concerns that fast credit growth will push up inflation.
June's new yuan-denominated loans rose by 285.9 billion yuan (about 45 billion U.S. dollars) year on year to 919.8 billion yuan, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), or the central bank, announced Thursday. Full story
Chinese premier urges more aggressive fine-tuning measures
NANJING, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called for more aggressive efforts to preset and fine-tune economic policies, as the world's second largest economy still faces huge downward pressure.
Speaking during an inspection tour of east China's Jiangsu Province from Friday to Sunday, he said the economy is running at a generally stable pace, but there is still huge downward pressure. Full story
Ministry vows resolute implementation of property regulations
BEIJING, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The Ministry of Land and Resources vowed Thursday to resolutely implement property market regulations and ensure market supplies.
The ministry will enhance monitoring of land development and curb market volatility. Full story
China cuts GDP growth to 7.5% t in 2012
BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- China sets its GDP growth target at 7.5 percent this year, down from the 8 percent goal in 2011, according to a government work report distributed to the media ahead of the parliament's annual session Monday.
China's economy expanded by 9.2 percent in 2011 from a year earlier after it grew 10.3 percent in 2010. Full Story