January 18, 2018 / 7:41 AM / a year ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-China's Q4 economic growth beats expectations

 (Corrects day of week in second paragraph)
    * China Q4 GDP growth +6.8 pct, beats forecasts
    * 2017 GDP +6.9, first pick up in growth since 2010
    * QoQ GDP growth slows to 1.6 pct

    By Kevin Yao and Elias Glenn
    BEIJING, Jan 18 (Reuters) - China's economy grew faster than
expected in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, helped by a
rebound in the industrial sector, a resilient property market
and strong export growth.
    Official data on Thursday showed growth in the October to
December period from a year earlier was 6.8 percent, unchanged
from the third quarter and above analyst expectations for 6.7
percent growth. Growth for the 2017 full year picked up to 6.9
percent year-on-year, the first annual acceleration for the
economy since 2010.
    Chinese policymakers have been trying to contain financial
risks and slow an explosive build-up in debt without stunting
economic growth.
    The world's second-largest economy easily beat the
government's target of around 6.5 percent for 2017 and quickened
from 2016 growth of 6.7 percent, which was the weakest pace in
26 years.
    "China's growth is very healthy," said Iris Pang, Greater
China Economist, ING, Hong Kong.
    "The risks that we worried about in 2017, for example
overcapacity cuts having a negative impact on GDP, did not
happen because new sectors are actually coming out to help
production to grow."
    GDP in the fourth quarter grew 1.6 percent
quarter-on-quarter, compared with revised growth of 1.8 percent
in July-September, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
    The annual pickup in growth comes as the government steps up
its crackdown on risky investment and high leverage ratios as
well as its fight against pollution.
    Despite strong overall growth, there have been signs of
weakening momentum in the economy as firms face higher borrowing
costs and the government tries to rein in credit. 
    Growth of fixed asset investment, much of it
government-directed, fell to the slowest pace since 1999 at 7.2
percent last year.
    China's exports and imports growth slowed in December after
surging in the previous month, adding to signs of ebbing
economic momentum.             
    Meanwhile, China's bank lending halved in December as the
government kept up its campaign to curb financial system risks,
but banks still managed to dole out a record amount for the year
amid the tighter scrutiny.             

 (Reporting by Kevin Yao; Writing by Elias Glenn; Editing by Sam
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