China's economic growth decelerated in the final quarter of 2013 and appears set to slow further, adding to pressure on its leaders to shore up an expansion as they try to implement sweeping reforms.
The world's second-largest economy grew by 7.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013. That rate slipped from the third quarter of 2013, when the economy grew 7.8 percent year over year, data showed Monday. Growth for the full year was also 7.7 percent, tying 2012 for the weakest annual performance since 1999.
Those figures appeared to mask a much sharper deterioration during the three months ended in December. Factory output, exports and investment all weakened. Growth in factory output in the final three months of 2013 dropped to 1.8 percent from the previous period's 2.2 percent rate.
China's growth still is far stronger than that of the United States, Japan or Europe.
But an unexpectedly abrupt decline from the blistering double-digit rates of the previous decade has raised the risk of politically dangerous job losses.
It also increases the challenges faced by the ruling Communist Party as it tries to rebalance the economy away from reliance on trade and investment. -- AP