China's Q4 economic growth likely to slow amid debt, pollution battle

Pollution levels in the city often breach World Health Organisation danger levels

That rate was set as Beijing said it wanted to achieve a more sustainable level of gross domestic product (GDP) growth amid worries about a growing debt mountain, risky investments and high pollution levels - particularly from industry.

Although some analysts generally express skepticism about China's official GDP figures, they agree that the rebound to 6.9 percent in 2017 shows China has gotten back on course for robust economic expansion after slowing down since last posting double-digit growth in 2010.

The world's second-largest economy grew an annual 6.9 percent in 2017, topping the government's target and quickening from 2016 growth of 6.7 percent.

Beijing traditionally has struggled to force its priorities on local governments, but has vowed to take on financial risk this year, including how local governments finance themselves.

Value-added industrial output, which measures production at China's factories, mines and utility sector, increased 6.2% in December from a year ago, according to the NBS, marginally faster than a gain of 6.1% in the previous month and slightly better than analysts' median projection of a 6.1% rise.

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New-home prices, excluding government-subsidized housing, in December rose in 57 of 70 cities tracked by the government, compared with 50 in November, the National Bureau of Statistics said. "We expect investment to come under pressure this year but we are relatively optimistic about consumption and exports". Solid exports have been a boon for Chinese policymakers.

In addition, retail sales of consumer goods grew 10.2% but its was 0.2 percentage slower than last year's growth.

China does not need to raise benchmark interest rates in the near-term as market rates and corporate borrowing costs have gone up amid a deleveraging drive, a central bank advisor said in remarks published on Tuesday.

Economists polled by Reuters predicted China's economic growth would slow to 6.5 percent in 2018 from an expected 6.8 percent in 2017.

Policy sources told Reuters previously that China will still keep its GDP growth target at around 6.5 percent in 2018 as Beijing seeks to balance efforts to reduce debt risks while keeping the economy on a steady footing.

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