China's economy expands 6.1 pct in 2019

Riot police detain a man after a pro-democracy protest inside a shopping mall in Sheung Shui in Hong Kong in December 2019

China's economy grew by just 6.1% previous year, a sign that the trade war with the USA has taken a toll.

Ning Jizhe, commissioner of China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said China's economy generally sustained a stable momentum of growth in 2019.

Beijing's trade spat with the United States, stuttering global growth and weakening domestic demand combined in its joint-worst slowdown in seven years.

Fourth quarter GDP rose 6.0pc from a year earlier, steadying from the third quarter, though still the weakest in almost three decades.

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

Analysts are expecting China's GDP to recover in 2020, Reuters reported, as tensions over trade with the us seem to have eased following the signing of phase one of their trade agreement.

In recent years, China's leaders have struggled to balance competing demands of maintaining high rates of growth while simultaneously minimizing the consequences of years of debt-fueled stimulus spending.

However, analysts note that China's downturn is structural in nature as it evolves into a more developed economy and faces demographic challenges such as the decline in the working age population.

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The new trade deal eases US tariffs on some popular consumer goods manufactured in China, such as cell phones, but leaves in place hundreds of billions of dollars of other tariffs, including on components that USA factories use to assemble finished products.

Real estate investment in China rose 9.9 per cent in 2019 from a year earlier, slowing slightly from a 10.2 per cent gain in the first 11 months of the year, official data showed on Friday.

"Retail sales growth were steady, indicating still pretty resilient consumers despite growing downward pressure on the labor market", she said.

"Monthly data showed that economic activities, including retail sales, industrial production and fixed-asset investment, have bottomed out in December".

He added that given the improvement in the external prospects after the first trade agreement and other signs of stabilization, a substantial easing of policies is also unlikely.

Banks also have been encouraged to lend more, especially to small firms, with new yuan loans hitting a record $2.44 trillion in 2019.

Xi Jinping's government was "never going to print a sub-6pc at this stage" and growth "in reality probably was a lot weaker", said Miguel Chanco, Pantheon Macro economist.

Even with additional stimulus and assuming the trade truce holds, economists polled by Reuters expect China's growth will cool this year to 5.9pc.

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