China growth expected to miss government target

Bank CEO: What I learned growing up in China's Cultural Revolution
Bank CEO: What I learned growing up in China's Cultural Revolution

China is poised to report full-year growth that falls short of the government's official target, according to a CNNMoney survey of economists.

Gross domestic product is likely to have expanded by 7.3% in 2014, compared to the same period last year, according to a median estimate of eight economists. While that is below the government's 7.5% goal, officials have said they will tolerate growth that is slightly below target.

Fourth-quarter growth is expected to be 7.2%, according to the survey, while GDP is forecast to dip further to 7% in 2015.

The National Bureau of Statistics will announce official fourth-quarter and full-year GDP figures on Jan. 20.

GDP growth in China remains the most comprehensive gauge of the country's economic health -- an important number to watch as the government works to reform the world's second-largest economy and shift to consumption-driven growth.

China averaged economic expansion of around 10% a year over the past three decades, pushing it up the list of biggest economies and boosting household wealth. But now, the pace of growth is languishing -- China recorded GDP growth of 7.7% in 2012 and 2013, a marked slowdown from 9.3% in 2011 and 10.5% in 2010.

Related: The Chinese like capitalism more than Americans

Bank CEO: What I learned growing up in China's Cultural Revolution
Bank CEO: What I learned growing up in China's Cultural Revolution

China continues to face a number of long-standing risks, such as ballooning government and corporate debt and a weak property sector.

In the face of a sustained downturn, the government has deployed incremental measures to boost the economy. Beijing has accelerated infrastructure projects, cut interest rates and tried to bolster the flagging property market.

Other efforts to support the financial markets have largely flopped -- a much-lauded pilot program to connect the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges has attracted relatively little investor interest. (Despite that, mainland investors have pushed the Shanghai market to record highs.)

Experts say a drop in global oil prices will provide a mini-boost to China, keeping a little more money in the pockets of consumers -- but even that could be short-lived.

Read next: 3 red flags causing the market to panic

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