China says its economy grew 6.6 percent in 2018, lowest pace in 28 years

Big 5

China says  that its official economic growth came in at 6.6 percent in 2018 — the slowest pace since 1990.

That announcement was highly anticipated by many around the world amid Beijing’s ongoing trade dispute with the U.S., its largest trading partner.

Economists polled by Reuters had predicted full-year GDP to come in at that pace, which was down from a revised 6.8 percent in 2017.

Fourth quarter GDP growth was 6.4 percent, matching expectations. That was a decline from the 6.5 percent year-over-year growth in the third quarter of 2018.

There were a few bright spots in Monday’s batch of official Chinese economic data.

Industrial output grew 5.7 percent in December from a year earlier — beating economists’ expectations of 5.3 percent growth — outpacing November’s 5.4 percent growth.

Pedestrians walk past Chinese flags displayed along the Nanjing Road pedestrian street in Shanghai, China.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past Chinese flags displayed along the Nanjing Road pedestrian street in Shanghai, China.

China on Monday announced that its official economic growth came in at 6.6 percent in 2018 — the slowest pace since 1990.

That announcement was highly anticipated by many around the world amid Beijing’s ongoing trade dispute with the U.S., its largest trading partner.

Economists polled by Reuters had predicted full-year GDP to come in at that pace, which was down from a revised 6.8 percent in 2017.

Fourth quarter GDP growth was 6.4 percent, matching expectations. That was a decline from the 6.5 percent year-over-year growth in the third quarter of 2018.

There were a few bright spots in Monday’s batch of official Chinese economic data.

Industrial output grew 5.7 percent in December from a year earlier — beating economists’ expectations of 5.3 percent growth — outpacing November’s 5.4 percent growth.

Retail sales data rose 8.2 percent in December on-year, in line with a forecast and up from November’s 8.1 percent gain.

“What we’re seeing in the fourth quarter is that, while the economy is decelerating, we actually still have some support from most of the quarters from the export front-loading,” said Helen Zhu, head of China equities at BlackRock, referring to exporters rushing to ship their goods out of China before new U.S. tariffs hit.

Zhu told CNBC that even though she expected some support from Chinese consumption and tax cuts, growth in 2019 will decelerate this year compared with 2018.

Although Beijing’s official GDP figures are tracked as an indicator of the health of the world’s second-largest economy, many outside experts have long expressed skepticism about the veracity of China’s reports.

“The official GDP figures have been too stable in recent years to be a good guide to China’s economic performance,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, a research house.

“But for what it’s worth, the headline breakdown suggests that service sector activity strengthened slightly last quarter,

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