|Sheng Laiyun (R back), spokesman of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), speaks at a press conference in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 18, 2012. China's economy expanded 7.4 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2012, slowing from 7.6 percent in the second quarter and 8.1 percent in the first, the NBS announced Thursday. (Xinhua/Wang Yongji)|
BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's economy has slowed for the seventh straight quarter, growing 7.4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2012, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced Thursday.
The figure was lower than the 7.6-percent growth seen in the second quarter and the first quarter's 8.1-percent growth but was still in line with economists' predictions that third-quarter economic output would grow between 7.4 and 7.5 percent.
China's GDP reached 35.35 trillion yuan (5.61 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first three quarters, NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun said at a press conference.
"The GDP grew 7.7 percent in the first three quarters and the economy is generally stable," Sheng said.
During the first half, the GDP grew by 7.8 percent.
"Compared with the first half, we have seen some improvements in the third quarter," he said, citing a trade rebound and other major economic indicators showing that growth has picked up.
NBS data released Thursday showed that total retail sales in September hit 1.82 trillion yuan, up 14.2 percent year on year, with a month-on-month growth rate of 1.46 percentage points.
Industrial value-added output grew 9.2 percent in September, up 0.3 percentage points compared to August.
Fixed asset investment rose 20.5 percent year-on-year to 25.69 trillion yuan in the first nine months, with growth accelerating slightly by 0.1 percentage point from the first half.
"We are fully confident that the economy will meet its growth target of 7.5 percent this year," Sheng said.
China lowered its growth target for 2012 to 7.5 percent amid sluggish demand and global economic woes.
"We are seeing positive factors that will drive a rebound for the economy," said Tang Jianwei, senior finance analyst at the Bank of Communications, China's fifth-largest lender.
China's exports saw a surprise surge in September, rising 9.9 percent to 186.35 billion U.S. dollars. Export growth sharply increased from 2.7 percent in August, according to customs data. Imports grew 2.4 percent to 158.68 billion U.S. dollars, ending three months of consecutive drops.
Tang predicted that exports will continue recovering in the fourth quarter on improvements in the EU and U.S. economies following a new round of quantitative easing (QE3) in the United States and the launch of a permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, in the eurozone that aims for financial stability in the region.
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