China’s property, financial sectors’ growth slower in fourth quarter

BEIJING: Growth in China’s real estate and financial sector slowed in the fourth quarter of 2016, despite an uptick in the overall service sector that contributed to better-than-expected GDP growth in the quarter, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data showed on Saturday. China reported on Friday that its economy expanded by 6.8 per cent in the fourth quarter thanks to strong consumer spending and record bank lending to stimulate the economy, despite rising debt concerns. A detailed breakdown in economic growth by industry issued by the NBS showed China’s red-hot property market, which accounts for about 15 per cent of GDP, saw its growth slow to 7.7 per cent in the fourth from 8.8 per cent in the third quarter, adding to concerns that a cooling housing market would drag on economic growth.

It also highlighted a sharp slowdown in the financial sector, which decelerated from 5.8 per cent growth in the July-September to 3.8 per cent in the fourth quarter. Growth in the construction sector also slowed marginally in the fourth quarter to 5.9 per cent from 6.0 per cent in the third quarter, despite a rebound in market confidence with new housing starts unexpectedly rising 12.5 per cent in December compared to a month ago. But the overall services sector remained strong in the quarter, growing 8.3 per cent compared to 7.6 per cent in the third quarter.

“Other services” overtook the real estate sector to become the fastest growing segment of the economy, with growth of 10.6 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from 8.8 per cent in the third. Other services includes many consumer services such as media and education, but also scientific research, social services and utilities. Growth in transportation, storage and postal services accelerated to 9.9 per cent in the fourth quarter, compared to a 6.5 per cent rise in the third quarter, Saturday’s data showed. The retail and wholesale sector also improved marginally to 7.2 per cent for October-December from 7.0 per cent in the third quarter as China’s consumers kept spending. — Reuters