January 19, 2018 / 3:13 AM / a month ago

China's Q4 GDP growth backed by continued strength in services, agriculture

BEIJING, Jan 19 (Reuters) - China’s better-than-expected economic growth in the fourth quarter of last year was supported by continued strength in the services industry and an expanding agricultural sector, official data published on Friday showed.

Services grew 8.3 percent from a year earlier, accelerating from the 8 percent pace in the third quarter, while agriculture expanded 4.4 percent versus 3.9 percent three months before, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

The breakdown of gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter follows the publication of headline GDP figures on Thursday.

The services sector accounted for almost half of gross domestic product in the quarter by value, while agriculture contributed 10 percent, according to Reuters calculations based on Friday’s more detailed data.

The data on Friday showed construction continued to decelerate, growing just 3.1 percent in October-December, as government measures to cool hot property markets reined in growth. The sector accounted for 7.8 percent of the economy.

But real estate growth picked up, growing 4.8 percent versus 3.9 percent a quarter earlier, as property markets in China’s big urban centres stabilised while smaller cities gained some momentum.

Real estate contributed 6.3 percent to GDP in the quarter.

The retail and wholesale sector slowed to 6.9 percent from more than 7 percent in previous quarters as consumption of physical goods such as autos lost momentum.

In December, the retail sales growth of 9.4 percent was the slowest since February 2006, undershooting forecasts.

Of note, the tech sector, which accounted for about 3 percent of GDP in October-December, sustained its double-digit growth in the quarter.

The sector expanded 33.8 percent compared with 26 percent in July-September.

China’s overall economy grew 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter, better than expected, as an export recovery helped the country post its first annual acceleration in growth in seven years.

That’s welcome news for policymakers looking to cut debt and pollution in older industries without stunting growth in the world’s second-largest economy. (Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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