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24 abril 2007

El PIB de China crece a un 11,1% en el primer trimestre

Se esperaba un crecimiento del 10,3%, y ha salido mucho más elevado, y además con la inflación subiendo al 3,3% por encima de la "zona de confort" (hasta el 3%), por lo que se prevé al menos una subida de tipos, rápidamente, y medidas para enfriar la economía.

China's economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace in the first quarter and inflation rose in March above the comfort zone of policy makers, likely spurring additional austerity measures to cool down the mainland's economy.

Analysts also speculated that the odds of higher interest rates improved in the wake of the data. "There will be at least one interest-rate rise, imminently," said Standard Chartered senior economist Stephen Green.

Data released Thursday showed that gross domestic product expanded 11.1% in the March quarter, surpassing consensus expectations that had called for 10.3% growth. The first-quarter growth rate also represented a quickening from the 10.4% pace seen in the final quarter of 2006.

"It's clearly showing that the economy is still on tear and has accelerated again, and the authorities are going to have to work harder to slow growth down," said Peter Morgan, HSBC's chief Asia Pacific economist.

Additional data released Thursday showed that China's consumer price index rose 3.3% in March from a year earlier, outpacing 2.7% year-on-year growth seen in February.
The People's Bank of China has set 3% growth in the CPI as the upper end of its target range, after consumer prices rose 1.5% in 2006.

"It's above the comfort range, but as far as we can tell it is mainly driven by food prices and international commodity trends, rather than anything specifically Chinese," Morgan said of the latest CPI.

HSBC forecasts that the People's Bank of China will raise interest rates by 27 basis points this year, while lifting banks' reserve requirement ratio by half a percentage point.

"The risk would be that they have to do more than that," Morgan said.

A spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics, at a press conference Thursday following the data release, said the economy could begin to experience unwanted side effects if growth were to accelerate further.

"If this kind of fast growth continues, there is the possibility of shifting from fast growth to overheating. There is that risk," statistics bureau spokesman Li Xiaochao said as quoted by Dow Jones Newswires.

Standard Chartered senior economist Stephen Green added the government's official GDP data likely underestimate the actual pace of economic expansion -- a figure that may actually be running at closer to 13% on a year-on-year basis.

Green noted, however, that the mainland economy's been able to maintain strong growth while keeping inflation contained below 5% -- a threshold that would signal prices are beginning to overheat.

"At the end of the day, you've got an economy which is growing fast with low inflation and -- let's not fool ourselves -- that is the dream of a developing-economy policymaker," he said.