China Dec Industrial Output +6.2% on Year; Market Expected +6.0%

Domestically, an increase of more than 10% in retail sales over the 12 months was highlighted as the world's second largest economy attempts to reposition its output more towards consumption and away from a reliance on its factories.

The country's GDP increased by 6.9% previous year, Ning Jizhe, head of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said at a press conference.

Healthy growth in 2017 was seen as particularly important.

According to official figures from China's National Bureau of Statistics, 61 out of the 70 cities surveyed saw prices increases on a yearly basis.

There had been clues the figure would be better-than-expected. The rate was forecast to remain unchanged at 6.1%.

With fixed asset-investment growth at the weakest pace since 1999, exports helped pick up the slack.

"It will be surprising if Q4 growth turns out to be 6.9 percent", said Li Huiyong, an economist at Shenwan Hongyuan Securities in Shanghai.

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The International Monetary Fund has also recently warned of risks stemming from China's ballooning debt, saying that each extra dollar of debt is producing diminishing returns for China's economy.

"We project GDP growth to slow to 6.4 percent this year".

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is considering several unilateral tariff actions on steel, aluminum and China's intellectual property practices likely to draw disputes from WTO members.

Economists say growth momentum in the economy is likely to weaken this year as firms face higher borrowing costs, the government tries to rein in credit and policy makers step up a war on pollution that has hurt the industrial sector in many parts of the country.

Chinese provinces and cities have always been suspected of cooking up numbers, with the focus on local government officials, whose performance is often assessed based on how well their respective economies have performed.

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.

"We expect an opposite trend in the year ahead from last year - smaller tier-3 and tier-4 cities will cool quickly and more housing supply will go into bigger cities where demand will catch up", said JLL's Zhou. It's the first time since 2010 that the pace of growth has picked up.

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