China’s economy grew faster than expected in the fourth quarter of 2017, as an export recovery helped the country post its first annual acceleration in growth in seven years, defying concerns that intensifying curbs on industry and credit would hurt expansion.

The official growth figures released on Thursday are welcome news for Beijing policymakers who are looking to cut debt and pollution in older industries without stunting growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s gross domestic product grew 6.8 percent in the October to December period from a year earlier. That was better than the 6.7 percent growth forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll and unchanged from the previous quarter.

The headline numbers and signs of property market resilience support economist views that fundamentals will remain intact in 2018, although some see headwinds from tighter regulations, U.S. trade protectionism and a softer consumer sector.

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