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Chinese economy continues slowing in April

By Chen Jia in Beijing and Fu Jing (China Daily)

10:45, May 12, 2012

Easing inflation may leave room for ’greater policy loosening’

Newly released economic indicators show that China’s economy continued to slow in April, raising expectations that the government will resort to greater policy easing to help stimulate the GDP.

Quickly cooling industrial production and fixed-asset investment, together with disappointing trade figures, have overtaken inflation as the key concern for Chinese policymakers.

This is driving Beijing to raise concerns about potential downside risks in the coming months, analysts said.

"The pace of economic growth in April may slow to its lowest ebb this year, mainly dragged down by weak exports and the slumping real estate market," said Liu Yuanchun, deputy head with the economics school of Renmin University of China in Beijing.

In April, China’s consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, eased to 3.4 percent year-on-year from 3.6 percent in March, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday.

Food prices increased 7 percent last month from a year earlier, compared with 7.5 percent in March, as falling pork and fruit prices offset rising vegetable prices.

A research report from the Bank of Communications forecast that the years’ average CPI may decline to 3.3 percent from 5.4 percent in 2011.

Inflationary pressure may ease in the first three quarters, while rebounding slightly in the last quarter of this year, the report said.

"Inflation is set to trend down further, which provides ample room for additional policy easing, including both a quicker pace of fiscal spending and a more supportive credit policy," said Sun Junwei, a Chinese economist with HSBC Holdings.

Meanwhile, the world’s second-largest economy witnessed industrial production growth of 9.3 percent last month — the lowest in three years — while retail sales growth slowed to 14.1 percent year-on-year from 15.2 percent in March.

Electricity production, an indicator of the industrial manufacturing sector, increased at its slowest pace since May 2009, rising 0.7 percent from a year earlier to 371.8 billion kilowatt-hours.

Duncan Freeman, research fellow at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, said the slowdown in China’s economy is partly related to its domestic situation and largely connected with the problems in its main markets — the United States and Europe.

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