China is revealing its 2017 GDP. Here's what analysts expect


A better-than-expected gross domestic product reading could lift stocks and global commodity prices, and boost bullish sentiment on the yuan, which has gained about 1 per cent against the dollar so far this year, following a 6.8 percent rise last year. Policy sources told Reuters previously that China will still keep its GDP growth target at around 6.5 per cent in 2018 as Beijing seeks to balance efforts to reduce debt risks while keeping the economy on a steady footing.

The headline numbers and signs of property market resilience support economist views that fundamentals will remain intact in 2018, although some see headwinds from tighter regulations, US trade protectionism and a softer consumer sector.

China is expected on Thursday to post a modest slowdown in fourth quarter economic growth from the previous three months as the government extended a crackdown on debt risks and factory pollution.

China's economy expanded a hefty 6.9% last year, the first growth acceleration in seven years, though the roaring property market and infrastructure spending that helped drive the pickup showed signs of flagging.

Taking the figures at face value, the 2017 growth rate is China's highest in two years. About 9% of the growth in the economy last year came from net exports, contrasting with the previous two years when trade was a drag on the economy. "Both state-owned enterprises and other Chinese enterprises have a high debt ratio, which will have a huge impact on the formation of bad bank debt in the future".

"The priority this year is to control risks, especially financial risks".

Healthy growth in 2017 was seen as particularly important for China's leaders.

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Fixed-asset investment excluding rural households, a key driver of domestic demand, was up 7.2% a year ago, the weakest growth since 1999's 6.3%, NBS data showed.

Given that, more interest is likely to be on the monthly trio of Retail Sales, Fixed Assets and Industrial Production - all expected to be similar to last month's growth rates.

Beijing meanwhile says it has been taking steps to contain risky debt despite the impact that might have on economic growth - efforts the International Monetary Fund said it recognised.

Several recent public revelations by regional governments of fraudulent government data have again raised doubts about the quality of China's economic numbers.

"The national economy has maintained the momentum of stable and sound development and exceeded the expectation with the economic vitality, impetus and potential released", National Statistics Bureau head Ning Jizhe said in a report.

"Indeed, we expect growth to average a mere 4.5 percent this year, though investors will probably need to look beyond the official GDP figures for evidence of this".