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IMF: Hard-landing concerns exaggerated

By Chen Limin (China Daily)

10:53, March 20, 2012

Deputy managing director predicts soft landing despite property slump

Zhu Min, an International Monetary Fund official, remains optimistic about China's chances of avoiding economic troubles even as the latest data points to a further slump in the country's property market.

"China's heading for a soft landing," Zhu, deputy managing director at the IMF, told a conference in Hong Kong on Monday, without elaborating.

Worries that the Chinese economy will slow significantly have recently been haunting global markets, particularly the commodities market.

They became more intense after the Chinese government set a GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent for the year, down from the 8 percent called for in the past seven years, and have been further aggravated by a slide in home prices.

The prices of new homes in 27 out of 70 cities surveyed last month declined from what they had been a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said over the weekend. Only in six cities did they remain unchanged.

Last week, Adrian Mowat, chief Asian and emerging-market strategist for JPMorgan Chase & Co, suggested that the slow car sales and cement and steel production seen recently indicate that the country is already experiencing "a hard landing".

Analysts, though, say they still hold out hope that the central government can prevent that from happening.

"For the time being, I am not too worried," said Kevin Lai, a Hong Kong-based senior economist at the research and consulting firm Daiwa Capital Markets Ltd.

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