Nomura revised down its first quarter growth forecast to 7.3 percent from 7.5 percent, noting that it sees downside risks to its full-year forecast of 7.4 percent.
"Given weaker-than-expected economic activity in January-February, we need to lower our GDP growth forecast for the first quarter, although we maintain our view on the trajectory growth: slowing in the first-half to a bottom in the second quarter at 7.1 percent and rebounding in the second half to 7.5 percent as we think policy will likely loosen significantly in the second quarter," Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Nomura wrote in a note.
While the government maintained its official 2014 growth target at 7.5 percent, Premier Li Keqiang said there is some "flexibility" around the target during a press conference at the close of the National People's Congress (NPC) on Thursday, seeming to indicate a willingness to tolerate slower growth.
(Read more: Chinese Premier hints at tolerance for slower growth)
Whether China has truly abandoned its fixation on growth remains in question however.
Louis Kuijis, chief China economist at RBS argues that growth remains a dominant economic policy objective as underscored by the government work report submitted to the NPC last week.
Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist and strategist, Asia ex- Japan at Credit Agricole, meanwhile, believes the government has shifted away from targeting a specific pace of growth to focusing on employment, nationwide income gains and establishing flexible objectives.
(Read more: Dr.Doom: Take the pain now or it'll be worse later)
Nevertheless, China growth concerns have returned to the fore, weighing on Asian markets on Friday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index declined 2.7 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell over 0.7 percent in early trade.