China's economy expanded 6.9 per cent last year in what is its weakest pace in a quarter of a century.
The annual growth rate was slightly below the official target of about 7 per cent, prompting the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index to edge up 3.2 per cent on the back of expectations of more policy stimulus.
Fourth-quarter growth also slackened to 6.8 per cent, China's National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday, the softest reading since the global financial crisis in March 2009.
Fears of a sharp slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy have been affecting global markets. Experts say that while an economic meltdown is unlikely, growth is likely to cool further to about 6.5 per cent this year even if Beijing ramps up fiscal spending and cuts interest rates again, as widely expected.