Fri, Jul 18, 2003 - Page 10 News List

China's economic growth will gather steam this quarter

BLOOMBERG

China's economy, which grew at the slowest pace in six quarters in the past three months, is accelerating as consumer spending picks up after the end of the SARS epidemic, the government said.

"Consumer spending bore the brunt of SARS and will rebound," Yao Jingyuan, chief economist at the National Bur-eau of Statistics, told a press conference in Beijing.

"Economic growth slowed in the second quarter but it will pick up in the third," Yao said.

Retail sales

Retail sales grew 8.3 percent from a year earlier last month, double the pace at the height of the epidemic in May, the bureau said in a statement.

Chinese consumers are returning to stores, bars and restaurants now the outbreak of SARS, a deadly virus, has been contained.

Yesterday, the bureau said the disease slashed economic growth to 6.7 percent in the second-quarter from 9.9 percent in the first.

In the first half, GDP grew 8.2 percent to 5 trillion yuan (US$604 billion), yesterday's statement said.

Growth

Growth for the full year will top last year's 8 percent, the state-run People's Daily newspaper last night reported on its Web site, citing National Bureau of Statistics deputy director Qiu Xiaohua.

State-led investment in fixed assets climbed 33 percent to 1.5 trillion yuan in the first half. That's helping create jobs for about 8 million people who are looking for work in China.

At the end of last month, China's official jobless rate stood at 4.1 percent, Yao said.

About half of the record 2.12 million graduates that entered the job market this year secured jobs by June 20.

At the same time last year, 65 percent of new graduates had found work, he said.

Slow quarter

China's second-quarter economic growth was the slowest since the final quarter of 2001, according to Bloomberg data.

The growth rate was announced on the People's Daily Web site Wednesday night in an article citing National Bureau of Statistics Qiu's half-year report to China's legislature.

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