China’s economy seen growing 2.2% this year

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    BEIJING- China’s economy is expected to recover steadily in the rest of the year, boosted by stimulus measures to reverse the damage from the coronavirus crisis, but weak global demand and rising Sino-US tensions are key risks, a Reuters poll showed.

    The world’s second-biggest economy is now expected to expand by 2.2 percent in 2020, according to the median of 42 analysts surveyed by Reuters, up from 1.8 percent projected in the last poll in April.

    But that pace would still be the weakest since 1976 – the final year of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.

    China’s economy expanded 3.2 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, following a record 6.8 percent slump in the first three months of the year as the virus and strict measures to contain it paralyzed much of the country.

    But analysts warn that the rebound is heavily reliant on state-led investment, while consumption remains weak. National disposable income per capita fell 1.3 percent in the first half of the year, according to official data.

    Manufacturing and construction have snapped back relatively quickly, thanks largely to a massive infrastructure push and a rebound in homebuilding. But the services sector has lagged, with the catering, hospitality and entertainment sectors struggling to get back to normal amid worries of a resurgence of coronavirus cases and cautious consumer sentiment.

    Exports have improved somewhat, largely due to massive demand for medical gear as the rest of the world battles the pandemic, though the shock of the health crisis is expected to depress global demand for some time to come.

    “We still see growth uncertainties ahead from a bumpy and uneven reopening in other countries, a less favorable policy environment, and the loss of strong growth driver in consumption/services amid elevated uncertainty in the labor market,” said analysts from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

    Deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing are also clouding the outlook, though a Phase 1 trade deal signed earlier this year still appears to be intact.