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China growth engine stutters

April 16, 2014

China has reported weak first-quarter growth as the country is in a reform process to make economic expansion more sustainable. Market pundits said the latest figures would be unlikely to lead to more stimulus programs.

Chinese worker welds steel product
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

China's economic growth slowed to 7.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2014, the National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday, also marking a 0.3-percent drop from the 7.7 percent growth rate recorded in the final quarter of last year.

"Faced with a complicated and severe economic environment at home and abroad, the government continued to transform and upgrade the new development model," the agency said in a statement, alluding to reforms to make economic expansion more sustainable.

The Royal Bank of Scotland's Chief Economist for China, Louis Kuijs, said subdued exports and a drop in real estate activities were at the center of the first-quarter slowdown.

No panic

But despite the fourth quarterly dip in growth in a row, analysts agreed Beijing looked unlikely to announce another major stimulus program to meet its annual growth target of 7.7 percent.

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The government had made it abundantly clear that it aimed to rebalance the economy away from its long reliance on exports and infrastructure and growth primarily fueled by big-ticket investment projects.

Chinese leaders said they hoped to get rid of outdated industrial capacity, admitting that their drive to do more for environment protection was coming at a price.

The emphasized that rebalancing must not come at the expense of employment. The number of urban jobs created in the first quarter was 3.44 million, 40,000 more than in the same period a year earlier. The government had announced a target of creating 10 million new city jobs throughout this year.

hg/hc (AFP, dpa)