China economists temper growth expectations after Q1

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With China’s gross domestic product widely pegged to maintain growth of 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, some official economists and state-backed think tanks are already predicting growth will slow markedly in the second quarter.

Zhang Baoliang, a researcher at the economic forecasting department of the State Information Center, was cited by the state-run Securities Times on Monday as predicting growth could slow in Q2 in the face of low external demand, a rising tide of “de-globalisation” and protectionism, uncertain policy outlook from the US, persistent economic imbalances in China and likely reduction in domestic sales of automobiles and housing.

The paper cited Mr Zhang and a number of other economists as predicting growth of 6.8 per cent in the first quarter.

But it also pointed to a forecast from the Institute of Finance and Economics at the influential Academy of Social Sciences that foresaw growth of slowing to 6.7 per cent in the first half of 2017, and which described full-year growth of 6.5 per cent as “no problem”.

More bluntly, Peking University’s Economic Policy Research Group has forecast GDP growth gradually slowing to 6.5 per cent over the next three quarters, bringing the annual rate to around 6.6 per cent.

At present a median estimate from economists compiled by Bloomberg predicts GDP growth for the first quarter will come in at 6.8 per cent year on year, with 16 of the 36 economists surveyed forecasting exactly that rate.

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