China economy grew 6.7% in 2016

Chinese PM believes country will maintain growth rate

China's real estate investment rose by 6.9% year-on-year in 2016, marking the strongest annual growth in seven years. The government had set a target of 6.5% to 7%.

While figures from China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show the economy grew by 6.7 per cent in 2016, the fourth quarter's annualised growth ticked up to 6.8 per cent, slightly above consensus estimates.

The figures showed a 0.2 percentage point decrease in growth compared with 2015.

Retail sales growth decelerated to 9.6% from 2015's 10.6%.

Experts warned that the prospect of a trade war with the United States - a result of threats by incoming U.S. president Donald Trump to raise tariffs on Chinese goods - was among the biggest risks to China's economy in the current year.

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The increase was slower than the 7.4 percent rise in 2015, as China's economy posted the slowest pace of growth in 26 years in 2016. State newspaper The People's Daily earlier this week reported that fiscal revenues in the province were inflated by at least 20% between 2011 and 2014.

It also said the economic structure continued to "transform and upgrade" while the industrial structure was "optimised and transformed".

Growth in 2016 Q4 was a robust 6.8 per cent, the NBS added, beating forecasts.

While fixed-asset investment provided key support for the world's second-largest economy past year, debt-riddled government led projects are also creating more risk for the nation.

"The stabilisation of the economy was largely due to the rally in the property market, which has also triggered concerns of an asset bubble", Zhou Hao, an economist at Commerzbank in Singapore, wrote in a research paper.

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This led to the economy growing 6.7% previous year, in line with forecasts but down from 6.9% in 2015, and the worst reading since 1990.

With the property market - one of the main drivers of economic growth past year - expected to cool in 2017, "fiscal policy will remain expansionary", Yang Zhao, an economist at Nomura International in Hong Kong, noted in a report.

The re-balancing continues. The Chinese economy continues to get bigger and mature and as a result economic growth rates are gradually easing toward the growth rates that are more common in major industrial nations.

"We do not expect this [quarterly GDP] rebound to extend far into 2017, when a slowdown in the property market and steps to address supply shortages in the commodity sector ought to drag again on demand and output", said Tom Rafferty, regional China manager for the Economist Intelligence Unit.

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