Quarterly growth slowing slightly
China's economic growth slowed down in the second quarter, with the central government's measures to cool down the economy getting the credit for having taken effect.
The economy grew 9.6 per cent during the April-June period compared to the same period a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.
It rose 9.8 per cent year-on-year during the first quarter.
For the first six months, the country's gross domestic product grew year-on-year at 9.7 per cent to around 5.9 trillion yuan (US$708.1 billion).
Bureau spokesman Zheng Jingping said the overall performance of the country's economy was good.
"The national economy kept stable and fast growth, the economic efficiency was improved continuously... residents' income rose obviously," he said.
Uncertainties and unhealthy factors existing in economic performance have also been placed under initial control, Zheng said.
"However, we should be aware at the same time that those prominent problems existing in the economy have not been rooted out fundamentally," he said.
The energy and transportation bottlenecks and rapid growth in fixed asset investments in some sectors are still troubling, he said.
During the January-June period, fixed asset investments rose 28.6 per cent year-on-year to 2.6 trillion yuan (US$314.2 billion), while retail sales were up 12.8 per cent to 2.5 trillion yuan (US$304.2 billion).
The consumer price index (CPI), a key inflation gauge for policy makers, rose 3.6 per cent year-on-year during the first six months. It rose 5 per cent in June.
Zheng said the Chinese economy would not have big ups and downs.
"The government will continue to carry out macro-control measures in the second half of this year," he said.
Its focus will be on adjusting structural problems, deepening reforms and changing the pattern of economic growth to ensure stable, fast and co-ordinated economic development, he said.
However, economists said the government should not take further tightening measures to cool growth, because fixed asset investment, money supply and other indicators have slowed markedly.
Fixed asset investment declined 14.4 percentage points during the second quarter compared to the first quarter.
Broad money supply or the M2 rose 16.2 per cent year-on-year in June, according to the central People's Bank of China. The growth rate was 4.7 percentage points lower than a year earlier, and 1.3 percentage points down from the previous month.
Outstanding renminbi loans were up 16.3 per cent in June. The growth rate was 6.8 percentage points lower than a year earlier and 2.3 percentage points down from the end of May.
The rapid decline in fixed asset investment and money supply will have a negative impact on the national economy, said Zhang Xueying, a senior economist with the State Information Centre.
"I'm worrying about the possibility of an abrupt economic slowdown," he said.
The government wants to bring economic growth down from the current levels where many resources such as oil have been constrained, but needs it to stay above 7 per cent to generate enough jobs.
"We need to prevent such a downward trend from strengthening in the coming months," Zhang said.
But robust demand from the external sector, as indicated in the June figures, would help prop up economic growth as loans and fixed asset investment downshift, according to the investment bank, Goldman Sachs.
China's exports grew 46.5 per cent in June, up from 32.8 per cent in May, while imports grew 50.5 per cent, up from 35.3 per cent in the same month.
This suggests external demand for China's exports remains robust, said Liang Hong, an economist at Goldman Sachs (Asia).
"The external sector's strength provides some buffer for the slowing in fixed asset investment," Liang said.
The People's Bank of China said earlier that as the country's economic targets, a 7 per cent growth in its gross domestic product and a 17 per cent growth in its money supply, are achievable.