China economy grew 7.8% in 2012: Government

BEIJING (AFP) - The Chinese economy expanded 7.8 per cent in 2012, the government said on Friday, as annual growth slowed for a second straight year in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.

But gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.9 per cent in the final three months of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, as it snapped seven straight quarters of slowing growth.

China's GDP reached 51.9 trillion yuan (S$10.1 trillion) in 2012, cementing its position as the world's second-largest economy after the United States.

Economists surveyed by AFP had projected GDP growth of 7.7 per cent in 2012 and 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter.

The official GDP figures come as optimism has grown among analysts that the economy will pick up steam in 2013 after two years of relative weakness. The AFP survey showed expectations of an acceleration to 8 per cent growth this year.

In a statement, the NBS said China's overall economic performance was "getting stabilised".

"In the next phase we should... focus on changing the economic growth mode as the main theme and improving the quality and efficiency of economic growth at the core," it said.

China's growth has slowed as the government took steps to cool a once red hot property market as well as amid weakness in the broader global economy, particularly key export markets the United States and Europe.

Growth had slowed for seven straight quarters through September, when the economy expanded 7.4 per cent, the worst since early 2009. Annual GDP grew 9.3 per cent in 2011 and 10.4 per cent in 2010.

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