China’s GDP up 6.8% on year ago

China's fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) has largely met expectations, coming in at 6.8% compared with a year ago, but still the slowest growth since the global financial crisis.

The revealing of Chinese economic data initially saw Asian markets rise modestly, but an hour later were trading down slightly, the lack of negative news giving some reprieve to markets hard hit in earlier weeks.

Pressure remains on Beijing to roll out more support measures as fears of a sharper slowdown panics investors, Reuters reported following release of the economic data.

Craigs Investment Partners broker Peter McIntyre said release of the economic data had "no real surprises'' for the market.

In the global context, China's growth remained "exceptionally good'', albeit down on previous years' 9% growth, he said.

Global sharemarket jitters so far this year have been hanging on the GDP delivery, with China's markets entering a sell-off bear market with around 20% losses, while others are down 5%-10%, since New Year.

Reuters reported full-year growth at 6.9%, as expected by the markets and analysts, and roughly in line with the Chinese Government's target of around 7%, but it was the slowest pace of expansion in a quarter of a century.

After being a major locomotive of global growth in recent years, China is now in a protracted slowdown, weighed down by weak exports, factory overcapacity, a soft property market, high debt levels, slowing investment and a government anti-corruption campaign.

Separate data from China yesterday revealed industrial output rose 5.9% in December from a year earlier, but missing market expectations, as its manufacturers struggle with persistently sluggish demand at home and abroad, excess capacity and high borrowing costs; analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 6% factory output increase.

Other data yesterday showed China's crude steel output fell 2.3% to 803.8 million tonnes in 2015 from a year ago, the first drop in more than three decades as the economy of the world's top producer slows.

Oil yesterday remained below $US30 ($NZ46.60) a barrel, with both the global benchmark North Sea Brent and West Texas Intermediate each having a more than $US1 rebound, trading up at respectively $US28.86 and $US29.65.

- Simon Hartley & Reuters 

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