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Optimism over China's economy surfaces

By Wang Yanlin (Shanghai Daily)

08:24, December 25, 2012

CHINA'S economy shows signs of a pickup after seven quarters of slowing growth, leading to a cautious sigh of relief as the year approaches its end.

Time to welcome the New Year with champagne? Perhaps.

Most analysts and market observers are forecasting that the world's second-largest economy will be on a much smoother keel next year, provided domestic demand expands and the specter of the eurozone debt crisis begins to release its grip on other global markets.

"The economic momentum in China has turned a corner since September, with recent data pointing to a continuing stronger performance," said Huang Yiping, an economist at Barclays. "We look for a moderate recovery in 2013, as the economy transitions to a 'new normal' of slower growth."

China's gross domestic product in the third quarter expanded 7.4 percent from a year earlier, the slowest pace in three-and-a-half years.

Economic data released to-date for the fourth quarter showed industrial production, fixed-asset investment and retail sales all grew strongly. That has encouraged bolder market forecasts of GDP growth of up to 8 percent in the current quarter and 8.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

One of the optimists is the World Bank, which raised its forecast for China's growth to 8.4 percent next year from a previous 8.1 percent.

The new year will usher in a new generation of Chinese political leaders. Everyone is asking: "What will be the changes?"

The annual Central Economic Work Conference in Beijing in mid-December provided some glimpses of what might be ahead.

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