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Confidence boost for first-quarter growth


China's entrepreneurs and bankers are showing strong confidence on economic growth in thefirst quarter, based on rebounding market demand and a stronger need for credit, which mayfuel inflation in coming months, according to two separate reports from the country's centralbank released on Tuesday.

An index gauging entrepreneurs'confidence on macroeconomic development has beenboosted to 68 percent in the first quarter from 60.4 percent in the previous three months,compared with 59.2 in the third quarter of 2012, said the People's Bank of China.

The economic confidence snapshot was based on a survey involving 5,700 entrepreneursacross the industrial sector.

The confidence index has now increased for three consecutive quarters, but it was still 3.5percentage points lower than the same period last year.

The central bank survey also suggested a strong recovery in industrial operations, with anindex reading for that rising to 62.6 percent during the first three months from 61.8 percent inthe last quarter of 2012, mainly because of a rise in domestic orders.

However, export orders remained down for the fourth straight quarter since April 2012,according to the PBOC.

In a separate PBOC survey, 3,100 bank executives also expressed high confidence in futureeconomic growth, with an index reading of 72.2 percent during the January-March period,sharply up from 55.1 percent in the last quarter.

The central bank said about 70 percent of the bankers surveyed said they expected economicdevelopment to remain stable, while 25.4 percent forecast a more gloomy outlook.

The figures were in line with economists'predictions that in the first quarter China's GDP growthmay accelerate to above 8 percent from 7.9 percent during the period from October toDecember.

David Carbon, an economist with DBS Bank Ltd, said China is likely to drive much of Asia'sfaster growth this year.

"We think the pickup will come mostly from investment. There were a lot of distractions in Chinalast year ― the leadership transition, high-profile criminal trials, international disputes overisland territories ― and investment growth was slower in 2012 than it was in 2009," saidCarbon.

The PBOC bankers'survey indicated the number of new bank loans rose 77.4 percent in thefirst quarter, up 6.3 percentage points from three months earlier.

The National Bureau of Statistics plans to release the first quarter's economic indicators onApril 15, which will be an important sign of economic growth this year.

【Source: China Daily

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