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Disappointing Chinese growth figures spook markets
An unexpected slowdown in China's economic growth has cast fresh doubt over the strength of its recovery, sending jitters through the stock markets.

Chinese GDP grew by an annualised 7.7pc in the first three months of this year, down from the previous quarter's 7.9pc growth, according to official government figures. Analysts had hoped for 8pc growth.

The disappointing figures, driven largely by weaker-than-expected industrial production, dragged on markets in Asia and elsewhere, led by commodities sell-offs. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.43pc and the Shanghai Composite dropped 1.13pc overnight.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 fell 0.94pc, the French CAC dropped 0.68pc and the German DAX slid 0.67pc on Monday morning.

Miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, which derive around a third of their revenue from China, fell 3.6pc and each took over 5 points off the index, with Citi also downgrading their view on the sector.

But the most dramatic fallers on the FTSE 100 were gold miners, with Randgold Resources and Fresnillo shedding in excess of 10pc.

Gold prices have dropped to a two-year trough due to fears of central bank sales and less monetary stimulus which could reduce demand to hedge against inflation.

Mixed signals from the economic giant in recent weeks have suggested that recovery in the economic giant remains fragile.

An apparent import boom fuelled hopes of growing Chinese consumer demand - considered a pillar of robust recovery amid sluggish growth in China's key trading partners, the US and EU - but the picture was muddied as inflation fell in March.

Such patchy figures have led analysts to question whether China's growth is still dependent on government spending and lacks the strong underpinning required from increasing consumer demand.

Slower spending on factories, real estate and other fixed assets, which rose 20.9pc in the first quarter, down from the 21pc rate for the first two months of the year. shows the economy suffers from structural problems, such as excess production capacity in some industries, according to Societe Generale economist Wei Yao.

"Given all this credit injected into the system, the future should look better," he said. "Nevertheless, the level of efficiency in the economy has declined. The same amount of money will no longer produce the same amount of growth."

While China's own growth target for 2013 stands at a modest 7.5pc, global forecasters keenly expect of a rebound for the world's second biggest economy after growth slowed to a 13-year low in 2012.

The Asian Development Bank predicts China's economy will expand 8.2pc this year, while the World Bank hopes to see an 8.3pc uptick even after a downward revision following last week's cut to the global trade outlook from the World Trade Organisation.

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