China's local government debt growth nearly doubles in 2017

China's economy had a pretty great 2017 but this year could be tougher

The country's Q4 GDP growth reached 6.8%, surpassing the forecast of 6.7% by economists polled by Reuters.

The expected moderation, still within Beijing's comfort zone given its annual growth target of around 6.5 percent, comes on the back of a cooling property sector, pollution curbs that have hit factory activity and a rise in corporate funding costs.

China has reported its first rise in annual growth since 2010 - seemingly benefiting from growing demand overseas as the world economic recovery gathers pace.

"The government is making moves to make sure that, for one thing, (the country is) rebalancing away from investment (with) monetary tightening and policies for ensuring that financial risks are also reduced, which should also mean that investment actually does continue to slow this year", Fenner told CNBC.

"The downward trend is clear".

Official data published Thursday showed the world's second largest economy grew 6.9% past year, beating analysts' earlier expectations.

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Just last week, Premier Li Keqiang said China's GDP was expected to have grown 6.9 percent last year, busting the official target and quickening for the first time in seven years.

Other estimates show that fourth-quarter growth ticked down to 6.7 per cent year-on-year from 6.8 per cent in the prior three months; retail sales increased 10.2 per cent in December from a year earlier, the same pace as the prior month; industrial production rose 6.1 per cent, also unchanged from November and fixed-asset investment climbed 7.1 per cent for the year, the slowest pace since 1999.

China's exports and imports growth slowed in December after surging in the previous month, adding to signs of ebbing economic momentum.

The upbeat data underscored debate over the veracity of official figures, following a recent spate of reports about local Chinese governments reporting fake or inaccurate economic data.

They are keen to keep the market - still a vital source of growth for the economy - stable as they campaign to reduce debt and financial risk nationwide.

Prices rose 0.4 percent in month-on-month terms, up from 0.3 percent in November the first pick-up in sequential growth since September.

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