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World Bank raises China's 2009 growth forecast to 7.2%

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BEIJING, June 18 -- World Bank Thursday raised its forecast of China's economic growth rate to 7.2 percent in 2009 from its earlier forecast of 6.5 percent, as the country's expansionary fiscal and monetary policies have kept the economy growing respectably.

It projects the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of the world's third largest economy to reach 7.7 percent in 2010 in its China Quarterly Update report released here Thursday.

"Growth in China should remain respectable this year and next, although it is too early to say a robust sustained recovery is on the way," said Ardo Hansson, World Bank's Lead Economist for China.

The Update, a regular assessment of the Chinese economy, finds that the fiscal stimulus is centered on the 4-trillion yuan (585 billion U.S. dollars) stimulus plan while the monetary stimulus has led to a surge in new bank lending.

"Positive signs have emerged in the real estate sector. Consumption has held up well. Very weak exports have continued to be the main drag on growth, while import volumes have recovered in the second quarter this year as raw material imports rebounded," said the report.

Global growth prospects remain subdued even as signs of stabilization have emerged. Financial markets have become less strained and there are prospects for stabilization of activity. However, a rapid global recovery seems unlikely and uncertainty remains, according to the report.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecast in a March report that China's economy might expand by 7 percent this year.

Zhuang Jian, a senior economist with the ADB office in Beijing, told Xinhua earlier last month that judging from current conditions, China's economic growth might exceed ADB's earlier forecast.

Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, forecast on June 12 here that China's economic growth would stand at around 8 percent this year.

Liu said China's domestic demand had been recovering steadily and credit growth remaining high, indicating that the series of economic stimulus plans have paid off, while China's economy still faced severe challenges, including sluggish overseas demands, rising unemployment, and an unstable international economic and financial situation.
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