China posts weakest growth in 29 years

China's Statistics Bureau released figures showing economic growth at its slowest since 1990.
China's Statistics Bureau released figures showing economic growth at its slowest since 1990.

China's economic growth slowed to its weakest in nearly 30 years in 2019 amid a bruising trade war with the United States and sputtering investment, and more stimulus steps are expected this year to help avert a sharper slowdown.

Fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) rose 6.0 per cent from a year earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed on Friday, in line with expectations and steady from the pace in the third quarter.

That left full-year growth at 6.1 per cent, the slowest rate of expansion China has seen since 1990.

While recent data pointed to some improvement in the ailing manufacturing sector, and a newly-signed China-US trade deal has helped revive business confidence, analysts are not sure if the gains can be sustained.

This year is crucial for the ruling Communist Party to fulfil its goal of doubling GDP and incomes in the decade to 2020, and turning China into a "moderately prosperous" nation.

Even with additional stimulus and the trade war truce, economists polled by Reuters expect growth will cool further this year to 5.9 per cent.

On a quarterly basis, the economy grew 1.5 per cent in October-December from the previous three months, in line with expectations and also steadying.

December data released along with quarterly GDP showed a surprising acceleration in factory output and investment growth, while retail sales grew at a steady, solid pace, suggesting the economy ended the year on a firmer note.

Industrial output grew 6.9 per cent in December from a year earlier, the strongest pace in nine months. Analysts had expected growth to dip to 5.9 per cent from 6.2 per cent in November.

Australian Associated Press