Chinese growth prompts further inflation fears

The Chinese economy refuses to slow down. The latest GDP growth figures have once again surprised on the upside, prompting new fears about inflation.

The official figures last week showed annual GDP growth of 10.3 per cent compared with 9.2 per cent in 2009, and following a higher-than-expected 9.8 per cent year-on-year increase in the December quarter.

While the inflation figures published at the same time show a slight moderation to 4.6 per cent during the quarter and only 3.3 per cent for the calendar year, Western forecasters expect this to pick up.

According to HSBC economist Qu Hongbin, the slowdown in inflation is temporary and the rate can be expected to rebound to 5-6 per cent in the coming months.

Ma Jiantang, director of the Chinese Government’s National Bureau of Statistics said the country was at a key stage of turning recovery into stable growth.

“In the past year, China has consolidated and boosted its recovery from the global financial crisis and the national economy is generally operating well,” Ma said.

The target growth rate for 2010, set early in the year, was 8 per cent. Expectations for the December quarter were that growth would come in at annualised 9.4 per cent due to monetary tightening during the September quarter.

In a separate statement in December, the Government said it would shift its monetary policy stance from “relatively loose to prudent” during 2011.

Expectations of further tightening and fears about inflation have dampened the China A-Shares (Shanghai) market, which has declined in the four consecutive months since October.