China posts weakest growth in 29 years as trade war bites

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China's 2019 economic growth weakens amid trade war

The signing of the phase-one trade deal with the USA this week combined with recovering global demand has improved the outlook for Chinese factories and exporters in 2020, though uncertain implementation of that deal and domestic financial fragility remain risks.

The country's GDP grew at 6.1 per cent in 2019, its worst performance since 1990 but still within government's target of 6-6.5 per cent. Analysts had expected it to expand 6.1 per cent, down from 6.6 per cent in 2018.

Gross domestic product (GDP) totaled 99.09 trillion yuan (14.38 trillion USA dollars) in 2019, with the service sector accounting for more than half of the total. It also noted the global trade growth was pushed down to 0.3 percent previous year, also a record low in a decade.

Analysts are expecting China's GDP to recover in 2020, Reuters reported, as tensions over trade with the us seem to have eased following the signing of phase one of their trade agreement.

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Revenue rose 8.0 percent in December, and the NBS noted that online retail in particular was developing strongly.

China's GDP growth slowed to its lowest in nearly 30 years as the US-China trade war weighed in, but improvements in the last quarter could mean Beijing will pare its stimulus focusing on deleveraging and reining in the property market. Policy settings agreed by the top leadership last month are due to be signed off by the nation's legislature in March.

On a quarterly basis, the economy grew 1.5% in October-December from the previous three months, in line with expectations and also steadying.

Beijing's trade spat with the United States, stuttering global growth and weakening domestic demand combined in its joint-worst slowdown in seven years.

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Chinese economy was hit hard by the U.S. tariffs as a result of the trade war between the two countries.

Signs of improvement, but will it last?

"Supported by the structural monetary easing and fiscal stimulus, the growth rate of fixed-asset investment picked up", said JP Morgan Asset Management Global Market Strategist Chaoping Zhu. Retail sales, which include spending by governments, businesses and households, increased 8% (link in Chinese) year-on-year in December, unchanged from November's pace.

The trade row knocked capital investment in the manufacturing industry.

"Despite the recent uptick in activity, we think it is premature to call the bottom of the current economic cycle", Julian Evans-Pritchard and Martin Rasmussen at Capital Economics said in a note. "The outlook for 2020 is for continued robust growth, boosted by the Phase One trade deal with the USA and the continued positive impact of government monetary and fiscal policy stimulus measures".

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