Business, Economics and Jobs

China GDP growth slowed to 8.1 percent in first quarter


Shoppers buy Chinese made clothing at a discount stall in Beijing on March 22, 2012.


Mark Ralston

China's economy grew at the slowest pace in three years during the first quarter, according to the latest data from the Chinese government

China's gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 8.1 percent in the first quarter, down from 8.9 percent in the last quarter of 2011. 

The slowdown, even coupled with North Korea's failed rocket launch Friday morning, couldn't hold Asian markets down, with Hong Kong closing up nearly 2 percent. 

China's economy has been losing steam for 15 months as trouble in Europe and the US has zapped demand for exports from the world's manufacturing hub. After years of double-digit growth, 2012 is shaping up to be China's weakest year in a decade.

Still, the first quarter figure is lower than economists had been expecting, the BBC said

Chinese officials have been trying to temper the economy in order to keep inflation and a housing boom - and potential bust - at bay. But CNNMoney said fears are rising that China's downturn will last into the second quarter. 

The World Bank is expecting the Chinese economy to grow 8.2 percent this year. 

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It's not yet clear whether China has hit the bottom of its economic slump, but Reuters said loan data suggests a comeback could be on the horizon. 

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