China Premier Says Economy Is Under Pressure Day Before GDP Data

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the economy faces increasing downward pressure as he and President Xi Jinping vowed reforms a day before the nation announces what’s expected to be its slowest annual expansion in more than two decades.

Li called for the development of new economic drivers and improvement of traditional industries to fuel a medium- to high-speed expansion, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the premier’s speech to provincial governors and cabinet ministers on Monday. China should push forward supply-side reforms amid industrial overcapacity and develop emerging and service industries, Xi said at the same seminar at the Communist Party Central Committee’s Party School, according to Xinhua.

China is poised to report a slew of data on Tuesday that’s expected to show its two-speed economy is intact. The nation’s stocks fell into a bear market last week on waning confidence that the government can manage the country’s transition to a new growth model and to a more freely traded currency, while government bond yields fell to a record low.

The government has given mixed signals in recent weeks about whether it will keep intervening to support stocks and the yuan, or make good on a promise from 2013 to give the market a decisive role in the economy.

The Chinese government will probably say fourth-quarter gross domestic product grew 6.9 percent on Tuesday, according to economists’ estimates. They project expansion for 2015 at 6.9 percent, the slowest since 1990, and that GDP growth will further slow to 6.5 percent this year, in line with official targets set in March.

Other data also due Tuesday are expected to show retail sales increased 11.3 percent from a year earlier, the fastest pace in 12 months, while industrial production probably fell to a 6 percent year-on-year growth rate, the projections showed Monday.

— With assistance by Alfred Cang

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