Published: Fri, January 17, 2020
Markets | By Otis Pena

China's birth rate at lowest level in communist era

China's birth rate at lowest level in communist era

China's economy grew a year ago at its slowest pace in three decades, hit by weak domestic demand and trade tensions, but while officials warned of further headwinds, separate figures Friday suggest the downward trend is bottoming out.

And while the world's number two economy had been gradually losing steam over the first three quarters, growth held steady at 6.0 percent in October-December - the same as the previous quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

China's economic growth cooled to its weakest in almost 30 years in 2019 amid a bruising trade war with the United States, and more stimulus is expected this year as Beijing tries to boost sluggish investment and demand.

The world's second-largest economy grew 6.1% in 2019, the slowest in 29 years but still within the government's target of 6-6.5%.

Analysts and officials are expecting the economy to level out this year.

In 2019, the birth rate stood at 10.48 per 1,000 people, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

As part of the agreement, China committed to purchases of at least an additional $200bn in U.S. goods and services over two years, while the United States has suspended or is reducing some tariffs on Chinese goods.

Analysts reckon that long-term target would need growth this year to remain around 6pc, though top officials have warned the economy may face even greater pressure than in 2019.

With property investment slowing, the strength of China's growth this year will depend on whether infrastructure investment is able to offset this decline, he said.

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"However, we should also be aware that the global economic and trade growth is slowing down", he said at a news conference.

Industrial output grew 6.9 percent in December from a year earlier, the strongest pace in nine months.

Retail sales rose 8.0 percent in December on-year, compared with forecasts for 7.8 percent and November's 8.0 percent.

Kuijs noted the trade deal bodes well for exports, as well as sentiment on business investment and consumption.

He added that major policy easing is unlikely as well, given the improvement in external outlook after the phase one trade deal and other signs of stabilisation.

"This shows that local governments continued to face funding constraints [.]", said Tommy Xie, China economist at OCBC Bank in Singapore.

The mini-deal includes a pledge by China to purchase $200 billion worth of USA goods over two years.

Banks also have been encouraged to lend more, especially to small firms, with new yuan loans hitting a record $2.44 trillion in 2019.

But Chinese leaders have repeatedly pledged they will not embark on massive stimulus like that during the 2008-09 global crisis, which quickly juiced growth rates but left a mountain of debt. Any more weakness, or signs of recovery, could affect the pace and scope of further stimulus measures expected from Beijing this year.

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