China's 2013 economic growth dodges 14-year low but further slowing seen
By Kevin Yao and Aileen Wang
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's economy narrowly missed expectations for growth to hit 14-year lows in 2013, though some economists say a cooldown will be inevitable this year as officials and investors hunker down for difficult reforms.
The chance that the world's second-largest economy may decelerate in coming months was underscored on Monday by data that showed growth in investment and factory output flagged in the final months of last year.
Waning momentum capped China's annual economic growth at a six-month low of 7.7 percent in the October-December quarter, a slowdown some analysts say may deepen this year as China endures the short-term pain of revamping its growth model for the long-term good.
Full-year growth in 2013 was 7.7 percent, steady from 2012 and just slightly above market expectations for a 7.6 percent expansion, which would have been the slowest since 1999.
"It's like a Chinese medicine," said Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at Industrial Bank in Shanghai.
"If you don't take it, you may have problems in future. But if you take it now, you cannot expect to regain your youth tomorrow."
After 30 years of sizzling double-digit economic growth that lifted many millions of Chinese out of poverty but also devastated the environment, China wants to change tack by embracing sustainable and higher-quality development instead.
That means reducing government intervention to allow financial markets to have a bigger say in allocating resources, and promoting domestic consumption at the expense of investment and exports. Continued...