China's gross domestic product (GDP) rose 7.8 percent on year in the third quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics reported on Friday, up from 7.5 percent in the second quarter and in line with expectations.
"The uptick in growth reflects both better exports and solid domestic demand, although the easing of industrial output growth in September indicates that the recovery is tepid," said Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at RBS.
Industrial output growth moderated to 10.2 percent on year in September, compared with 10.4 percent in August. Still, Kuijs remains upbeat on his outlook for the world's second-largest economy.
"We expect global demand momentum to pick up as the economic upturn in the U.S. and Europe takes hold and see this as key to our growth projection for China," he said, forecasting full-year growth of 7.7 percent for 2013, and 8.2 percent in 2014.
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"Against this more constructive global backdrop, and with domestic demand momentum remaining solid, we expect GDP growth to be above the government's 'bottom line' in 2014, thus alleviating pressures to stimulate the economy," he added. Earlier this year, Premier Li Keqiang identified 7 percent as the "bottom line" for growth, local media reported, saying that this this threshold must not be breached.
With the impact of government stimulus fading, many are questioning whether growth levels posted in the third quarter will be sustainable. In late-July, Beijing unveiled a package of measures to boost the economy, which included eliminating taxes on small businesses, reducing costs for exporters and lining up funds for the construction of railways.
According to Ting Lu, chief China economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, on a quarterly basis, growth likely peaked in the July-to-September period. In the third quarter, growth rose 2.2 percent on quarter, up from 1.9 percent in the previous three months.
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However, in year-on-year terms, he notes that growth could rebound again, to around 7.8-8.0 percent, in the first half of 2014 on a low comparison base.